Chester A. Arthur School earns prestigious award

Photo credit: Adam Northam/School District of Philadelphia.
Photo credit: Adam Northam/School District of Philadelphia.

The Chester A. Arthur School at 2000 Catharine Street in South Philly’s Graduate Hospital neighborhood received a prestigious award for supporting healthy lives.

The T4 Education named the Chester A. Arthur School in the Top 10 shortlists for the $250,000 World’s Best School Prizes in the category for Supporting Healthy Lives. The World’s Best School Prizes, founded last year by T4 Education in collaboration with Accenture, American Express, Yayasan Hasanah, and Lemann Foundation, are among the world’s most prestigious education awards. 

Arthur School, a kindergarten through eighth grade school, was selected among thousands of schools worldwide for the way the school community has tackled conflicts, fostered inclusion and nearly eliminated suspensions among its racially and economically diverse community by implementing a restorative approach. 

The school, led by Principal Dr. Mary Libby’s expertise in restorative practices and in line with the district’s shift towards responsive classrooms and trauma-informed practices, creates a positive and inclusive school environment where students feel heard, respected and supported in resolving conflicts in a restorative manner. 

“I have had the privilege of being the principal of Chester A. Arthur School for the last four years,” said Libby. “I’m proud of the collective commitment to consistently maintaining a restorative culture that has supported students and inspired our students to lead through our core values.”

Libby and School Counselor Megan Brigaman, underwent foundational training in restorative interventions that they then provided to the rest of their colleagues. Currently, the counselor and climate staff members provide skill-building lessons and help resolve conflicts in a dedicated restorative room. The entire school participates in daily meetings focused on social and emotional skills, and collaborates with community partners to enhance expertise in mindfulness, coping skills, teen mental health, and healthy relationships.

“Being shortlisted for the T4 Education’s Top 10 World’s Best Schools Prizes is a remarkable recognition that shows the achievements of schools making a real difference in education,” said Tony B. Watlington, Sr., Ed.D., Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. “This recognition shines a spotlight on the hard work and dedication of Chester Arthur School administration, staff, students and families and highlights the great work that’s happening in Philadelphia.”

The five World’s Best School Prizes – for Community Collaboration, Environmental Action, Innovation, Overcoming Adversity, and Supporting Healthy Lives – celebrate schools everywhere for the pivotal role they play in developing the next generation of learners and for their enormous contribution to society’s progress, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This honor was established to share the best practices of schools that are transforming the lives of their students and making a real difference to their communities. 

“The schools shortlisted for the World’s Best School Prizes, no matter where they can be found or what they teach, all have one thing in common. They all have a strong school culture. Their leaders know how to attract and motivate exceptional educators, inspire change, and build excellent teaching and learning environments,” said Vikas Pota, Founder of T4 Education and the World’s Best School Prizes. “I must congratulate Chester Arthur School on being named in the Top 10 shortlists for the World’s Best School Prizes 2023. Schools across the globe will learn from the story of this trailblazing Philadelphia institution and the culture it has cultivated.” 

The Top three finalists for each of the five World’s Best School Prizes will be announced in September. Winners will be announced in October. The winner of each category will be chosen based on rigorous criteria by a distinguished Judging Academy consisting of leaders across the globe including academics, educators, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, government, civil society, and the private sector. 

A prize of $250,000 will be equally shared among the winners of the five categories, with each school receiving an award of $50,000.