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Widener Partnership Charter School Names New Principal

The Widener Partnership Charter School, Pennsylvania’s first university-based charter school, on Monday announced Rosemaria McNeil-Sampson as the new principal and chief executive officer. McNeil-Sampson will lead the groundbreaking 300-student elementary school based at Widener University as it expands to include the middle school grades over the next three years.

McNeil-Sampson replaces Annette Anderson, who served as principal since the school opened in fall 2006. Anderson left the charter school in February to become senior vice president of education initiatives with East Baltimore Development, Inc., an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University. McNeil-Sampson will assume her new role on July 1.

A resident of Lancaster, Pa., McNeil-Sampson comes to the charter school from Benjamin Franklin School and The Math Science Academy in Harrisburg, Pa. where she has served as principal since 2006. Prior to that, she served as chief academic officer and principal at Graystone Academy Charter School in Coatesville, Pa. in 2006, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the School District of Lancaster from 2003 to 2005, and principal of Wagner Middle School in Philadelphia, Pa. from 1993 to 2003.

McNeil-Sampson earned a master’s degree in education administration and principal certification from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree in human behavior and development with early childhood teaching certification from Drexel University. She is also certified in secondary mathematics and earned a superintendent’s letter of eligibility from Arcadia University.

“My experiences have taught me that, in spite of the challenges in our urban centers, we can create educational opportunities that transform the lives of children,” McNeil-Sampson said. “I’m proud to be a part of the kind of innovative educational programming that defines the Widener Partnership Charter School—the kind of initiatives that give our children the second-to-none educational opportunities to which they are entitled.”

“We were impressed with Ms. McNeil-Sampson’s emphasis on individualized professional development for teachers and data-driven adjustments to the instructional program,” said Stephen C. Wilhite, chairperson of the Widener Partnership Charter School board of trustees and dean of the Widener School of Human Service Professions. “Her references spoke glowingly of her unwavering focus on student achievement and of her abilities to engage effectively with parents and families.”

The charter school takes a holistic approach to education that emphasizes a low student to teacher ratio, the social and emotional development of each student, a close partnership with parents and caregivers, and the inclusion of music, art, drama, physical and health education and foreign language instruction as integral parts of the curriculum, Wilhite said.

Because it is affiliated with Widener University, the school receives a variety of supports from the university including education faculty and students who support and enhance the instruction of classroom teachers, graduate students from social work and clinical psychology who provide a range of services to the children and their families, and the use of university facilities such as the Science Teaching Center and the Art Gallery.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,600 students. Visit the university website,