Board Member and Education Committee Chair, Beth Dougherty, was just named one of only 25 “Difference Makers” in the South Philly Review! Congratulation Beth!
By Bill Chenevert
Beth Dougherty is another community member who’s putting a lot of time in a school building where she doesn’t even have a child. And, in a time of career transition, she just may have found her new passion. “This has become the most important social issue to me. I’ve always been a big supporter of public schools,” Dougherty, the Chair of the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association’s Education Committee, said. She’s frustrated about the way public discourse slanders public school buildings and teachers and Southwark School, where her efforts tend to focus, is an example of the opposite of this unfounded notion.
“The public schools have this rotten reputation and that the teachers don’t care and that everyone’s apathetic,” she said, regrettably.
And she’s been in the building quite a bit lately and is more than willing to show neighborhood families that this is simply not the case.
“[Southwark] is really just an amazing place. The kids are amazing and it’s really kind of beautiful. Public schools really are places where kids want to learn and teachers want to teach them and the feeling is just really positive – you get a positive feeling when you walk into Southwark, and I will take anyone on a tour of the building at any time,” she said.
One of the things she’s most excited about is an incoming playground at Southwark for which the Community Design Collaborative has already whipped up plans. They’ve created “gorgeous renderings and then we’ll go out and start hustling to raise the money to fund the build,” she said, “it’s probably $1 million.” “There’s not really a park space in our neighborhood so we’re hoping that it’s going to be this amazing space – an outdoor learning space, gardens, a playground. We’re really hoping that the park can be open to the community,” she said, and noted that some neighbors have requested a walking track around the perimeter of the school.
The resident of the 1700 block of South 10th Street is a Temple Law grad who moved to Philly from New York City about 22 years ago.
“The reason I got involved at Southwark is this huge influx of younger couples in the neighborhood,” she said, and seemed excited to report that although the EPX educational efforts have focused on Southwark, “we’re now also starting to work with St. Anthony of Padua – we’re going to be holding a fundraiser later in the year to support their athletic program,” she said. But about Southwark, she’s inspired by its building leader, too: “We’re so lucky to have Andrew [Lukov] as a principal and he’s been so inclusive and amazing.”