By Dorothy Kennedy
A recent call to Susan Flynn, CEO of the Chester County Family Academy (CCFA), found her heading out the door with first and second grade students on their way to the American Helicopter Museum to sing during the organization’s volunteer holiday luncheon. For the caller asking how CCFA serves the community, the timing couldn’t have been better.
To CCFA and its students, service comes in many forms. It might be singing for volunteers at a local non-profit. It could also be doing an intergenerational art project as part of the Grand Friends program at the West Chester Area Senior Center or performing during an event organized by the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce (GWCC). While the ways are various, they all exemplify serving or giving back to the community.
For this outstanding, long-term service to the Greater West Chester and Chester County communities, the GWCC is honored to name CCFA its 2017 Community Service Award winner. The award will be presented during the Chamber’s Annual Banquet on Thurs., Feb. 1, 2018 at The Desmond Hotel, Malvern.
“You can’t help but smile when you see and hear the CCFA students performing,” said GWCC President & CEO Mark Yoder. “What a great way to serve our community. The Chamber is delighted to recognize CCFA, its Board, staff and students, for giving back to Greater West Chester and Chester County in so many uplifting ways.”
CCFA, located at 530 W. Union Street, West Chester, was founded in 1997 as one of Pennsylvania’s first six charter schools. Serving students from kindergarten thru second grade, the school was designed to provide a private school style education for young learners who, along with their families, are struggling with limited resources. In addition to outreach, CCFA’s community-based program includes academics and extracurricular activities such as swimming lessons at the YMCA or physical education classes at West Chester University.
Doing musical performances, art projects or reading activities, or sharing other talents with their community partners are the students’ way of thanking them for supporting the school’s programs, according to Flynn, who became CEO in December, 2014 after serving for 17 years as CCFA’s second grade teacher. Funds from the Chamber’s Education Foundation, for example, help support CCFA’s Literacy Through Music program.
This program, designed to improve learning in academic areas, also teaches vocal music concepts and provides Suzuki violin lessons and African Drumming lessons. Support from the Chamber also gives CCFA students various opportunities to perform during Chamber events.
In thanking the GWCC for naming CCFA its Award recipient, Flynn, of Chester Springs, said the award not only honors the charter school it also demonstrates to its students that “they have a voice in this community, that they can be proud of themselves.”
“We have been part of this community for 20 years,” she said, adding that the school has served approximately 1,500 students during that time. “I am honored that I am able to be the children’s advocate in the community, to give them hope for the future even though they face economic, social and emotional challenges daily. When non-profits with compatible missions collaborate, their goals are successfully met, dollars are spent more efficiently and their stakeholders are more effectively served. It is our shared purpose to serve the children of our community.”
To learn more about CCFA go to ccfaschool.org. Purchase tickets for the GWCC Annual Banquet here.