Alongside her younger siblings and parents, Monica Rios sat patiently on a wooden bench waiting to be called into the office of George W. Nebinger School to register for her first day of school in a new city.
From Riverside, N.J., Rios’ parents got married and relocated to Ninth Street and Washington Avenue.
“I want to learn and be nice to people, but I’m a little scared,” said the aspiring artist and newly minted third grader in response to coming to a new school.
Rios’ classmates had already formed lines and headed to their classrooms, but Rios was one of the many who still lingered in the hallways and lobby area on Tuesday morning, the first day of school for the School District of Philadelphia.
The stragglers had one similarity: All of them held a white note card with a number written in black marker. When their number came up, they could be called into the office to take care of summer’s unfinished business.
The lobby of Nebinger remained a familiar place for Kim Feliciano. Before current principal Ralph Burnley took his post two years ago, three of Feliciano’s children attended the school. Located at Sixth and Carpenter streets near Feliciano’s home in South Philadelphia, Nebinger was convenient for the mother of five.
But after two of her children continually came home with bruises from bullying, Feliciano removed them from the school. Feliciano’s remaining school age children currently attend the Christopher Columbus Charter School except for her son Eric, who has special needs.
“I hope the bullying will stop,” Feliciano said. “I’ve heard the new principal don’t tolerate it, but we’ll see.” Only eight bullying incidents occurred last year at the school.
Heather Singletary said she hopes this school year will bring change for her son too.
From second grade to now, Samaad Moultrie will have had the same teacher, and his mother is worried it will foster the negative experience he has had while attending the school.
“He has behavioral problems, so I can’t put him in a charter school,” said a scrub-clad Singletary, who was fresh from a work shift at a nearby nursing home. “The teacher seems to constantly nitpick at him, so I just don’t think it’s a good idea for him to be in the same class again.”
Though Moultrie remains apprehensive about this school year for her son, Chrystal Francais said she hopes Nebinger will bring about positive change for her grandson, Christian Paul.
Because the area of Paul’s previous school was poor, Francais chose to have him commute to George Nebinger from West Philadelphia.