North Philadelphia : Principal Makes an Impact on Young Lives, Community

“One band. One sound. And the beat goes on,” said Dunbar Promise Academy Principal Dawn Moore of her dedication to unity amongst herself, her school and her community.

In her position, Moore wears many hats – school leader, community powerhouse and change advocate.

However, for the past six years she’s focused her energy on revitalizing the education experience for students K-8 enrolled at Dunbar Promise Academy, located on 1750 N. 12th St. in North Philadelphia.

How did you get involved with DPA?

I had a successful record of school reform and transformational leadership. My passion for supporting teaching and learning in inner city schools, as well as my record qualifications aligned with the school’s needs.


What is a Promise Academy?

A Promise Academy is a reform effort to restructure failing schools by implementing research-based strategies, including extended day, week and year instruction, hiring a staff committed to reform, professional development, remediation and acceleration services, extensive social service supports and unique extracurricular activities among other community-centric supports.

What are DPA’s core values and/or mission within its community?

Every day we promote high academic achievement utilizing research-based practices designed to meet the needs of our diverse learners.

We foster college and career readiness, focusing on its attainability.  We create classrooms that support our common core standards in math, literature, science and social studies in a manner readily accessible to any student that comes through our doors. This includes fostering global skills through use of technology and leadership development.

Of course, none of this is possible without our primary focus on community, home and school symbiosis.

For us, Dunbar stands for:



No excuses for not trying

Building relationships

Achievement and


In 2014, the state education budget reached a crisis. The effects of the fallout are still felt. How have you and DPA reacted?

All staffers wear multiple hats in continuing the Promise Academy model of transformative education. This includes focusing on a balanced budget.


What are some of the unique challenges facing your students and the North Philadelphia community?  

Poverty, violence, access to mental and physical resources.

How does DPA make an effort to address these specific challenges?

In combatting the issues facing our students, we seek to provide a solid educational base. We believe that all of our students can learn at high levels.

It is our responsibility to provide a safe learning environment that fosters academic excellence, respect for diversity and positive self-esteem.

It is our expectation that all staff, students, parents and the community share this responsibility.

How have you observed community engagement levels?

They provide support to their students and school as well as a collaborative spirit.


What programs do you oversee/facilitate that affect the community the most?

Dunbar focuses on providing educational access, counseling and social services to the community through our school and its impact.

What would you like to see change within the community DPA serves?

Reduced crime, poverty and an increased thirst/value for higher education

What is DPA currently working towards? 

I believe the school is the catalyst for change in the community. If we truly believe in the future of our children and the positive direction of the community, funding should not be an issue. We don’t have the luxury of time. It’s the tyranny of time we’re in.

– Text and images by Lora Strum and Ashley Renee Hart 

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