New Superintendent, New Business Manager, New Teachers in WSSD

WSSD board president Rick Sonntag welcomed Dr. Lisa Palmer to her first board meeting as the district’s superintendent.

WSSD board president Rick Sonntag welcomed Dr. Lisa Palmer to her first board meeting as the district’s superintendent.

Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board

By Katie Crawford

Dr. Lisa Palmer took her seat as the new superintendent of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District at the July 18th meeting of the school board, which provided less than the so-called “fifteen minutes of fame.” Despite the brevity of the meeting, there was enough time for Palmer to again thank the school board for the opportunity and privilege of serving the Wallingford-Swarthmore community.

The board also welcomed Dr. Palmer’s successor as business manager: Martha Kew, previously of the Annville Cleona School District, a small, public school district located in Lebanon County, Pa. Ms. Kew is also the former business manager/board secretary at Weatherly area school district in Weatherly, Pa. She is currently enrolled in law school as well as working as an instructor in the master of science in school business leadership program at Wilkes University. Finally, the board made time to approve the hiring of six new district teachers.

In other news, Dr. Palmer updated the board on the state’s recent passage of a full budget and noted that the district’s projections regarding revenues from state funds appear to be in line with the final state numbers.

The state’s final budget, however, still does not reflect $100 million in additional possible revenue which would come from a gaming expansion bill that proposes to legalize online gambling and add up to 20 new slot machine facilities. The specifics of this bill are expected to be resolved this fall.

Often asked whether she works in the summer, Dr. Palmer affirmed a “yes” answer, and noted the abundance of energy and ongoing projects found across district offices throughout the summer months. These include preparing and refreshing buildings, delivery of new school buses, and ongoing curriculum development, as well as an active human resources department busy processing the new hires.

New Teachers, Some With Familiar Faces

Board member Mr. Paul Schregel commented on how pleased he was to see that many of the six new teachers hired by the district had prior experience working in district schools as short and/or long-term substitutes, thus they are individuals “with whom we have had experience.”

Of these new teachers, Swarthmore-Rutledge School will be getting a new 4th grade teacher, Jonathan Blake, who will be replacing retired teacher Irene Buechler. Mr. Blake attended Penn State; his prior experience includes working as a long-term substitute in 1st and 3rd grade in the Wilson Area School District in Easton, Pa.

Five new teachers will greet students this September at the Nether Providence Elementary School, including Aubrey Beiswenger, who will be teaching 4th grade. Ms. Beiswenger also attended Penn State and worked as both a kindergarten teacher and a 4th grade advanced academic program teacher at Westgate Elementary school in Westgate Elementary in Falls Church, Va.

In addition to Ms. Beiswenger, NPE will welcome three new 1st grade teachers. Kimberly Pandow attended Texas A&M University and has prior teaching experience as a kindergarten teacher in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Florida. Joining Ms. Pandow in the 1st grade will be Christina Geraghty, who graduated from West Chester University and was a long-term substitute at NPE, and Jennifer Clay, who also graduated from West Chester University and was also a long-term substitute at NPE.

Finally, Lillian ReDavid will split her time as a kindergarten teacher between Wallingford Elementary School and NPE. Ms. ReDavid attended Penn State and worked as a long-term substitute at SRS and WES.

Happy Beginnings

(Left to right) Dance Happy partners Liv Helgesen, Julia Tyler, and Emily Scott, with prototypes of the silkscreened products their venture will make and market.

(Left to right) Dance Happy partners Liv Helgesen, Julia Tyler, and Emily Scott, with prototypes of the silkscreened products their venture will make and market.

Julia Tyler of Swarthmore recently turned 21, an important milestone in any life; particularly so in hers. As a person with Down Syndrome, she has received services through the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District since kindergarten, continuing through her graduation this year. At the end of the summer, that formal support will end.

But unlike many 21 year olds, Julia has a steady job. And unlike most adults of any age, she is an entrepreneur, with a stake in a startup that promises not only to fulfill her personally, but also to generate growth and income. Julia is among three principals of a newly-formed enterprise called Dance Happy, which designs and prints textiles and art that will eventually be sold in a variety of boutiques and home stores.

Julia’s confederates in the effort are Emily Scott, owner and Julia’s boss at Compendium boutique in Swarthmore, and Liv Helgesen of Philadelphia, Julia’s job coach with Community Integrated Services. “We three have formed a really nice bond over the years,“ Emily said, “and we wanted to find an organic way to continue working together. Julia is very creative, and she has different perspectives than I do. Liv has great expertise in screen printing. And I have the business and marketing background.”

How They Got Together

Julia “walked” with her Strath Haven class during graduation ceremonies in 2014, but she didn’t leave high school behind. Rather, she continued the relationships she had already begun with specialists at the school and in the community, working on employability and job readiness skills like workplace interactions and expectation. In trial employment and internships at a dozen businesses and agencies, Julia and her support team identified what Julia is most capable of and most comfortable doing.

It turned out that the perfect fit was at Compendium, where Emily Scott was eager for help, after six months of understaffed operation.

“Julia and I clicked, and I could see that she enjoyed the work,” Emily said. Julia has had different responsibilities during 3 1/2 years at Compendium, and will continue as an employee of the store three days a week, even after Dance Happy is up and running. One of her weekly responsibilities is receiving shipments, inventorying incoming goods, and preparing them for the sales floor. “She operates at her own pace and capabilities, but she has learned so much,” Emily says.

It was Emily’s idea to add a line of tote bags to the Compendium offering, combined with Liv’s training in printmaking (her major at the University of the Arts) which gave shape to the venture that is Dance Happy. Liv had recognized Julia’s creativity in their work together over the years. “Community Integrated Services tries to understand a person’s true potential, and find employment based on that.” But at age 21, CIS services and a grant that helped fund Julia’s employment come to an end. Though she will still be a paid part-time employee of Compendium, Liv says, “We had to find some other stuff for Julia to do.” With the mutual trust and affection between Liv and Julia, they looked to continue working together.

Liv Helgesen (left) and Julia Tyler work on a silkscreen project in the print shop located in the basement of Compendium.

Liv Helgesen (left) and Julia Tyler work on a silkscreen project in the print shop located in the basement of Compendium.

Liv helped Julia create collections of scissor-cut paper. Working together throughout the process, the duo have laid out designs incorporating varied geometric and organic shapes, made silkscreens, mounted screens, spread ink in many colors on palettes, and experimented with printing on a variety of surfaces from canvas to archival print paper. Their product has benefited from an adaptation of the traditional screen press: a modified press helps Julia apply even pressure without great exertion, Liv says.

Emily said, “I like clean lines, and that’s part of Julia’s esthetic, but she has different perspectives than I do, and I love her designs. I think people are going to be really surprised when they see her work.”

Product Launch August 28

The launch will be at a trunk show on Sunday, August 28, at Compendium. Customers and the larger public are invited to the show, planned for the afternoon (times will be posted soon at the store.) For the wider world, Emily will soon begin representing products — which may include tote bags, throw pillows and prints — to retailers and wholesalers, employing the lessons she’s learned from Compendium’s best vendors.

Dance Happy is more than a job, Julia’s mother Karen Tyler said. “Though Julia is initially shy, she really opens up around people she loves, like Liv and Emily. She likes to dance; the name of the brand reflects that energy. And she loves this creative work. I could envision her doing this for a long time.”

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‘Bridge Slide’: Big Move Comprised of Tiny Movements

7-22 Bridge being moved onto new supports

7-22 Hydraulic pistons pulling threaded rods

Photos show the new bridge span before (above) and after (below) it was moved into final position in the middle of newly-cast concrete pieces. The old bridge span — which was to the right (north) of the new one — was dismantled and lowered to the ground. Using hydraulic rams and threaded steel rods (above), project engineers then moved the deck about 20 feet in order to center it on the supports.

7-22 4 Girders moved into place

During June and July, working two 12-hour shifts, SEPTA’s Crum Creek Viaduct repairs proceeded apace toward the anticipated completion and reopening of the bridge — and SEPTA rail service west of Swarthmore — in September.

If you make the trek (or send a camera drone) to view the project now, you will see a single concrete deck sitting on new steel girders, supported by four new concrete piers, between two new concrete abutments.

These supports were built under the existing structure of the rail bridge (parallel and to the north of the new structure) which had carried trains across the Crum from the 1980s through June 19, Following removal of that old bridge deck and catenary wires and towers, the new girders and deck sections were moved from the south edge to the center of the piers in a complex hydraulically-assisted process SEPTA called a bridge slide.

The Crum Creek Viaduct team reported on project progress: “The new Crum Creek Viaduct bridge slide began in the morning on Friday, July 8, and was completed on Saturday, July 9. In addition to the new bridge being placed, precast concrete for the pedestrian tunnel were set last week. Webcams are live on the project website— — where you can also see a time lapse video of the new bridge sliding into place.” If you like big projects, the July 8 footage is required viewing.

7-22 Pistons retracted, tightening nuts



Will our American flags ever again be raised to their proudest positions?

The nation mourns the deaths of three Baton Rouge and five Dallas police officers shot by cynical men with Army training, battlefield weapons, and deranged senses of justice, who thought policemen’s blood would avenge blood spilled in police shootings.

Family and neighbors mourn Robert Payne, a son of Swarthmore and Strath Haven High School and a schoolteacher in Chester, who on July 4 became the fifteenth person this year to be shot and killed in our city next door.

Other neighbors pray in thanks for the miraculous survival of Folcroft police officer Christopher Dorman after he absorbed seven shots from a thug’s gun during an arrest last month.

Despite broad public support and pleas from police chiefs across the country, sensible gun control legislation cannot pass this U.S. Senate. Can we recognize the sound of gunshots as they get closer to home? Will that motivate us to act in meaningful, effective ways to limit the number of guns in circulation — now about 300 million, one for each of us — to make murder a bit less convenient? Can we come up with a formula to force lawmakers at least to again outlaw semiautomatic assault weapons?

Chris Reynolds

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Convention Coverage

Swarthmore College political science professor Rick Valelly and Swarthmorean editor Chris Reynolds will be tweeting (@theswarthmorean, @rvalelly) and posting to Facebook from the Democratic National Convention next week. Join in the convention conversation, share your observations, and look us up if you are at Wells Fargo Center. We’ll cover the convention in upcoming Swarthmoreans.

Jennifer Lentz Set to Convene With Dems in Philadelphia

Jennifer Lentz at home in Swarthmore with children Thomas (7), Bryan (5) and Daisy (2). Joseph, who is not pictured, would be 9 (3/13/07-7/7/09).

Jennifer Lentz at home in Swarthmore with children Thomas (7), Bryan (5) and Daisy (2). Joseph, who is not pictured, would be 9 (3/13/07-7/7/09).

“I’m probably not the Lentz that people think of when they think of politics,” Jennifer Magid Lentz said last week. Yet it is she, rather than her husband (former PA State Representative Bryan) who will represent the voters of the Swarthmore area as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention next week in Philadelphia.

Not that Jennifer is unfamiliar with politics. She served as a prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office from 2000 to 2005, and again, in the Chester County District Attorney’s office until 2007, when the first of her four children, Joseph, was born. Through Bryan’s career in Harrisburg and campaign for U.S. Representative, Jennifer says, “We met a number of the bigger players. It was state senator Connie Williams who approached me about running in this election.”

Running as a delegate pledged to Hillary Clinton, Jennifer received more votes than any other female delegate in Pennsylvania’s 1st congressional district. Clinton won the state Presidential primary, and thus the preponderance of the 189 convention delegates from Pennsylvania. Jennifer is excited to support Clinton, whom she feels has the qualifications and intelligence necessary to lead the United States.

“Hillary is experienced, competent, brave, and resilient. The fact that she’s a woman just adds extra fun for me. And, yes, having a daughter gives special meaning to representing Hillary Clinton as she looks to become the first woman president.”

“I’ll know a number of the delegates by name and by face,” Jennifer said, in anticipating the work ahead at the convention. “I’m looking forward to experiencing the political process, and especially to the development of an inclusive agenda.” To her, this presidential election in this time of polarities is more than a matter of personal politics.” This country is hurting, and I want to see the uniting of parties and people.”

It will be a week of late nights, jostling and information overload (if not smoke-filled rooms), but not all the intrigue will be political, Jennifer said. “I heard a rumor that Lady Gaga is performing. I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t looking forward to that!”

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Letters to the Editor…

Making the best of it

To the Editor:

Like many commuters, I was dismayed when 1/3 of SEPTA’s rolling stock was taken out of service due to Hyundai’s faulty attachment of the train’s wheels to the chassis. Fortunately, aggressive action was promptly taken, averting a possible tragic incident.

The new schedule (which keeps getting revised) allows for only one train per hour much of the day, and these trains have been subject to annoying delays due to passenger overloads. SEPTA has advised riders to find alternatives to the train, and during the upcoming convention (July 25-28) this would seem to be excellent counsel.

I had the bad fortune to miss my train while trying to find a parking space on Myers (at a distance that seemed half-way to Morton), and trudged morosely to the station. A SEPTA worker posted there, noting my woeful countenance, informed me of a Route 109 bus that would be soon leaving from outside 101 S. Chester, just south of the roundabout. (They run approximately every 15 minutes.) A surprisingly comfortable ride with an excellent driver landed me at 69th Street, where the El whisked me into town.

Coming home, helpful advice from another SEPTA worker helped me avoid the overloaded, generally late 5:28 p.m. out of Jefferson Station, and advised me that the trains that end at Secane are now supplemented with a speedy shuttle bus to all stops beyond.

I am impressed with the speed and consideration with which SEPTA has responded to a crisis not of their making.

Rob Dreyfus

Preserving the Trust

To the Editor:

While most of the United States eased into a short week after celebrating the country’s 240th year of Independence, bad cops and a bad man pummeled America’s sense of Justice and civil behavior. Baton Rouge, Louisiana has historically abused African Americans during law enforcement, officially and unofficially. So another blue on black incident was not surprising. Conscientious witnesses and video (sadly, none from the arresting uniformed officers) brought sunlight to dismal history. St. Paul, Minnesota, is better known for its fair Nordic liberalism than abusive policing. An isolated episode in a municipal PD was magnified by its sickening echo of Baton Rouge.

In Dallas, Texas, on night three, five police and transit officers were slain by an ex-Army African-American sniper while dutifully monitoring a peaceful demonstration protesting the Baton Rouge fatality. Five dead among Dallas’s finest rocked our equilibrium. One sick man vividly introduced mass hate police crime. A copycat three-policeman interstate murder in Baton Rouge tore deeper wounds on Sunday past.

Our Constitution, with its enviable Bill of Rights, is 229 this year. Old for historic empires marking enduring civilizations; young relative to time. It is fragile nonetheless. Amended, the founding document now grants freedom for all, with the faith that each will do unto our neighbor as we would have done to ourselves. The compact asks us to respect the law, and enforcers of the rule of law, in exchange for this freedom. As Baton Rouge and St. Paul battered trust for civilians, Dallas and Baton Rouge fractured the faith in this compact among police on the front line of enforcement nationwide.

These seismic events don’t just happen in large cities. They can occur anywhere, including Swarthmore, where a public fist-fight or an exchange of racial epithets would dispirit and outrage the community. We have a slim margin for civility. Steady professionalism by our police, and constant civilian respect and support are all that is required to maintain it. Parents, by word and action, refresh your children’s respect for the law and our country. Say hello and give thanks to members of your police department. Civilians, say “good morning” to someone you don’t know in town, and share a longer chat with a person who appears in need of one. The connection may halt a corroding mind or give an early warning.

And, police everywhere, get back to the basics of serving and protecting without profiling late night motorists or pedestrians, or regarding local youth as “entitled.” Youth (and adults) of all hues are only entitled to equal protection under the law. Most importantly, Swarthmore, update your nonviolent resolution training. We would be wise to form a committee to review the past and map positive reform ahead of potentially fatal misunderstandings. Include our police chief, mayor, residents (say 5, including two minorities), a criminal justice scholar, a neutral out-of-towner, senior Swarthmore College administrator, and a college student. It is important that our delicate national experiment is nurtured regularly at the local level. Peace,

Leonard Ellis
Swarthmorean, American, Human

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Briefly Noted…

Lap Swimmers: This week’s winners of the turquoise with navy writing 2016 1,000-lap T-shirt at Swarthmore Swim Club include: 39.) Charlotte Hull, 40.) Bob Silzle, 41.) Barbara Fleming and 42.) Johnnie Hughes.

Jim Babenko of the Swarthmore Post Office had a dilemma. The post office received a letter from a youngster attending a camp in Maine and no one in the office could decipher the address. So, he took a picture of the envelope and put it up on Nextdoor Swarthmore hoping someone would recognize the handwriting. It worked, and within a couple of hours, the letter was delivered!

What to do? What to know?

Jig, Reels, and Rants on the SPL Lawn

Aye, laddies and lassies, the time is nigh for Scottish country dancing, thanks to the Sharon Ford Concert and Lecture Series.

Traditional Scottish dancers, accompanied by musicians, make merry on the lawn in front of the Swarthmore Public Library, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 22. After the pros do their thing, the dance leader will lead all ages in a few dances. Rain will move the dancing into Borough Hall.

The event is free and open to all; please preregister at (610) 543-0436.

Make a Splash at Tyler Arboretum’s
Wacky Water Festival

Learn about life in the water, and live it up in the water (you may want to bring a swimsuit) at Tyler Arboretum’s Wacky Water Festival on Sunday, July 24.

Hourly storytelling sessions in the Terrace Room, crafting stations on the lawn, discovery stations with aqua facts and lore, and of course, water, water, everywhere on an obstacle course and sprinkler circuit.

The events take place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Tyler Arboretum, 515 Painter Road, Media.

The festival is free with regular Tyler admission of $7-$11 (free for kids under age 3).

Info is at

Furness Summer Reading Club Celebrates

Summer readers are all invited to the end-of-season celebration, featuring storyteller Vicki Town, and promising a surprise from Ms. Lori.

Meet at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, at the Helen Kate Furness Free Library, 100 N. Providence Road in Wallingford.