Science Leadership Academy

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Science Leadership Academy
1482 Green St. Philadelphia, PA


United States
MottoLearn, Create, Lead
School districtSchool District of Philadelphia
PrincipalChris Lehmann and Ann Leaness
Number of students504
Campus sizeSmall
Color(s)Blue & Black         
AthleticsBaseball, Softball, Boys and Girls Basketball, Girls Volleyball, Boys and Girls Cross Country, Boys and Girls Soccer, Boys and Girls Track, Boys and Girls Ultimate, Cheerleading

The Science Leadership Academy is a magnet public high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which opened in September 2006. SLA is a partnership between The Franklin Institute and the School District of Philadelphia. SLA is a 1:1 project-based laptop school where all students and teachers use laptops as their primary learning tool.


Science Leadership Academy was created by the board of the Franklin Institute and founding principal, Christopher Lehmann. The 'Mission and Visions' page of the school's website describes the school as, "a partnership high school between the School District of Philadelphia and The Franklin Institute. SLA is an inquiry-driven, project-based high school focused on 21st century learning that opened its doors on September 7, 2006. SLA provides a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum with a focus on science, technology, mathematics and entrepreneurship. Students at SLA learn in a project-based environment where the core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation, and reflection are emphasized in all classes." [1]

In Spring 2009, SLA was named an Apple Distinguished School, as of 2009 one of only 33 schools in the nation so named.[2] In addition, SLA was featured in the April 2007 Edutopia Magazine article, "My School, Meet MySpace" where the school is called "... [John] Dewey for the digital age, old-fashioned progressive education with a technological twist."[3]

The school has received speeches from a number of distinguished individuals over the years, including Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who spoke to the students of SLA on Thursday, April 29, 2010 [4] and Steven Squyres, lead researcher on the Mars Land-Rover project who first visited the school in 2007 and was SLA's keynote speaker at their first graduation on June 15, 2010.[5]

In a September 2010 issue of Ladies Home Journal, SLA was named one of ten in "America's Most Amazing Schools".[6]

In October 2010, published a case study of SLA on their Education web page.[7]

In March 2011, SLA was featured in the PBS documentary Digital Media: New Learners for the 21st Century.[8]

In March 2012, featured SLA in their video about iBooks and iBooksAuthor.[9]

In June 2012, President Barack Obama came to the Franklin Institute. He was there to congratulate the graduating seniors of Science Leadership Academy. The president said, "My expectation is that somebody in this auditorium is going to figure out new sources of energy that help not only make us more energy independent but also deals with the problems like climate change. There is somebody in this room who is going to make sure that we are defeating diseases like Alzheimer's or find a cure for cancer." President Obama said that the students' talents would mean a bright future for the United States.[10]

In September 2019, the school planned to open its doors in its new building on Green Street. Due to the construction being done, the opening was delayed for several days.

School features[edit]

Each student of SLA, (along with the teachers), receives their own personal laptop, which they are responsible for throughout the school year. The majority of school work is done on the computers through the school's Canvas course-management system. The school also has some of the largest and most extensive lab areas in the entire school district, with four lab classrooms. Two are located on the 2nd floor and the other two on the 3rd. These classrooms are large in space, combining both a usual SLA classroom along with the lab areas, allowing students to conduct experiments on a regular basis opposed to the occasional one as in many other schools. Students do benchmark projects every quarter to demonstrate the application of their learning, with the aid of the five core values (see below).


The location of the school building was decided upon its proximity to the Franklin Institute, as well as being in the heart of Downtown Philadelphia. The building itself was formerly an office building (for the Human Resources department of the School District of Philadelphia), which was completely renovated for SLA. In total, the building is five stories tall (though the school only uses the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th floors), contains three elevators (reserved for teachers and disabled students only), and three main stairwells, with one that gives access to the 1st-3rd floors, and the other two for the 1st–5th floors. One interesting feature to the building, dubbed the "Pool" by the students, is a large cutout structure, (with the interior walls painted blue that give it its name), located on the second floor which looks into the 1st-floor café.This space was originally planned to be a grand staircase that leads visitors straight from the front door to the office, however, engineering conflicts did not allow for this. Also, two ballrooms, (located in the middle of the 2nd and 3rd floors) were supposed to be staircases that were connected as well, though the same conflicts denied those plans. The lease for these plans ends in 2019. At that point, Science Leadership Academy has plans to renovate and move into Benjamin Franklin High School's facility. The building will be renovated to fit the two schools how they see fit. [11]

Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber[edit]

On September 9, 2013, the school opened a second campus in the Wynnefield area of Philadelphia and graduated its first class in June 2017. SLA@Beeber originally shared a building with Beeber Middle School. After delaying a closure decision in 2013, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission recommended in 2015 that Beeber Middle School be phased out over a two year period[12]. SLA@Beeber is now the only occupant of the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance to educational architecture[13]. In the 2018-2019 school year, the school welcomed its first fifth grade class. The school's founding principal is Christopher Johnson. They have created many new partnerships with places such as PAFA and St. Joseph's University.

Science Leadership Academy Middle School[edit]

On September 7, 2016, the third campus of Science Leadership Academy - Science Leadership Academy Middle School opened in the Powelton Village neighborhood of Philadelphia. The school (SLA-MS) opened with a 5th grade and will grow a grade until it houses a 5th through 8th grade. The founding principal is Timothy Boyle and the school is currently housed in the Dornsife Center on 35th and Spring Garden Sts as part of their partnership with Drexel University. The website for the school is

Core values[edit]

The Science Leadership Academy is an understanding-driven, project-based school where the learning is centered around the five core values of inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection.


Students ask questions about their topic that will allow them to fully understand it. They also inquire about the things they do not know about said topic.


With their resources, students research their topics in depth using credible sources.


Students collaborate with classmates and others to continue their spectrum of learning.


Students convey their thoughts, ideas, and findings through their presentations.


Students reflect on the work, along with successes and failures and see what they can do to improve on future work.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Science Leadership Academy, "Mission and Vision," Referenced on February 6, 2011. Archived February 14, 2011, at WebCite
  2. ^ The Franklin Institute, "Science Leadership Academy named "Apple Distinguished School"," June 2009. Referenced on July 21, 2009
  3. ^ Edutopia Magazine, "My School, Meet MySpace," April 2007. Referenced on July 9, 2008 Archived February 14, 2011, at WebCite
  4. ^ Archived June 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Archived August 8, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Ladies Home Journal article Archived February 14, 2011, at WebCite
  7. ^ Case Study Archived February 14, 2011, at WebCite
  8. ^ Digital Media: New Learners for the 21st Century
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ DesignShare: "Designing School 2.0: A Study of Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy" Archived February 14, 2011, at WebCite
  12. ^ Graham, Kristen (2 October 2015). "Philly superintendent wants more closures, conversions, new schools". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  13. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Pennsylvania - Philadelphia County". American Dreams, Inc. Retrieved 31 August 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°57′21″N 75°10′34″W / 39.9558°N 75.1761°W / 39.9558; -75.1761