Keeping My Contract on Halloween

By Anissa Weinraub

For the past couple weeks, my school has been buzzing with buildup to Halloween.  It is a tradition at the Academy @ Palumbo to host a "Parade of Horrors" -- where students get a chance to strut in front of their peers (i.e. the ENTIRE student body) in their costumes and compete for prizes.  And they got into it today -- in terms of the creativity and playfulness of the costumed contestants, as well as the extreme positivity and support pouring from the audience of their peers.  In what may seem like an anomaly from the usual depiction of Philly teenagers, this morning our auditorium was filled with hundreds of screaming youth, all focused on celebrating one another.   

It was incredible to witness this type of positive and loving school culture -- built by a school staff who work tirelessly to create opportunities like these for our students to feel special, engaged, and part of a community. 
As a little bonus, all of us teachers dressed up thematically as musicians from the 1990s. Four of my colleagues and I decided to whip up a little "Girl Power" of the Spice Girls.  Other amazing cameos were made by the Beastie Boys, TLC, Aaliyah, and Lisa Loeb, among others. 
In a school district where I feel constantly cast as "the enemy" and where, many days of my week, I feel like I have to mount a war with politicians just to continue doing my job, it was incredible to be laughing alongside my students today as we built a more cohesive school culture.  And then to go back to class (in a red wig) and work on helping them write better thesis statements.  
Today, I was #KeepingMyContract.  Just like countless colleagues of mine across the city who work everyday to meet our students' social, emotional, and academic needs.