Principal Dr. Michael J. Calderone
on His Mind...
At the end of his emails, Frankford High School's Principal Dr. Michael J. Calderone leaves you with a powerful parting gift.
Frankford High School will be a collaborative setting engaging all stakeholders in an inspirational and respectful environment that prepares students to be productive global citizens.
FAA: Is Frankford your first principal assignment? If so, what have you learned the most? If not, where did you previously work, and how did that experience differ from Frankford's.
PRINCIPAL CALDERONE: Frankford is my second assignment as principal. Prior to coming to Frankford I was the principal of Harding Middle School for 8 years. The experience is different in that while the students are in some cases, the same exact children I had at Harding, they are much more mature and have very different needs.
Furthermore, the catchment area for Frankford is much larger and some of our students come from various parts of Philadelphia, not just the Frankford neighborhood.
Additionally, at the high school level we also focus much more on college and career readiness and post secondary success.
FAA: To date, what has been your most memorable moment at Frankford?
PRINCIPAL CALDERONE: It is really hard to pick just one moment as the most memorable. There have been so many great things that have taken place here over the last couple of years.
However, some that stand out are receiving a $500,000 grant to support our 9th Grade Academy—winning a public league title in badminton— and a City Championship in baseball last year; and most recently our Inaugural Frankford High School’s 5k was a smashing success!
Also, I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting many new students, families, faculty, staff, community partners, and alumni as well as reconnecting with former students and their families.
Of all the great things that have happened here, getting to hand my students their diplomas is the most rewarding!
FAA: What was your agenda at the start, and what have you checked off your To Do list?
PRINCIPAL CALDERONE: My agenda when I first arrived was to really observe first and foremost. I looked for strengths of the school and also looked for areas where we needed to grow.
Most importantly, I wanted to set a vision for the school collaboratively with the students and staff. We were able to set the vision by the end of my first year, and spent last year really drilling down to our core values. Realizing our vision will never be something we can mark as complete as we have to constantly work and grow as a school community.
I also wanted to add additional CTE (Career and Technical) Programs as well as expand our elective course offerings to our students to provide them more opportunities to explore and develop their talents, and to begin to think of career paths.
This year we have dramatically expanded our Arts and Humanities elective offerings and are also opening an Aviation Program next year that will allow students to fly solo at age 16, become a private pilot by 17, graduate as a certified flight instructor by 18, and become an airline pilot by 21.
Editor’s Note: Career and Technical Education (CTE) gives high school students the chance to get a head start on preparing for college and careers. In CTE programs you will learn how core school subjects like math, science and writing are used in real-life.
FAA: Tell us about your education background. Are you originally from Philadelphia?
Principal Calderone: I am not from Philadelphia. I grew up in Delaware County. I attended Archbishop John Carroll High School, and then headed off to Shippensburg University where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
Soon after graduation I decided to switch careers and earned my master’s degree in education from Cabrini College in 2001. Last May, I graduated from Saint Joseph’s University with my doctorate in educational leadership.