New School Spotlight: Mastery Thomas

In early January, Schools That Can welcomed a new Member school to the network: Mastery Charter School – Thomas. The Mastery Thomas School serves students K-12, but on two campuses. Thomas is part of the Mastery Charter School Network in, a non-profit organization that runs charter schools, turnaround schools, and Renaissance Schools in Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ. Last Spring, their peers at Mastery Shoemaker also joined Schools That Can.

Mastery Thomas Elementary’s Staff

Mastery Thomas Elementary is led by Principal Michael Farrell, while Mastery Thomas High School is led by Kristy Fruit. Having previously taught at Independence Charter School, another Member school in Philadelphia, Farrell sought out STC as a partner for Thomas. Farrell has worked at Thomas Elementary for almost five years. He receives much support from the Mastery network with coaching and curriculum, but was eager to connect with different kinds of schools and access different approaches and practices. Additionally, Farrell and Fruit, though on different campuses, are committed to strong collaboration across grades and schools, and see STC as a means to foster that collaborative spirit.

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Mastery Thomas High School Students

In 2005, Mastery took over Thomas and opened Mastery Thomas Middle School, a turnaround effort seeking to revitalize one of the most violent schools in Philadelphia. Thomas students demonstrated success in middle and high school, but they knew they could do more if students started high school with a stronger foundation. Thus, in 2013, they expanded into the elementary grades to ensure a smooth educational journey from K through 12. This year represents the first year that Mastery Thomas is serving students all the way from Kindergarten through 12th grade.


Mastery Thomas prides itself on its robust enrichment programs for elementary students and leadership development efforts for high school students. Young students take music twice weekly, as well as arts, language, and physical education. High school students have lots of enrichment opportunities as well – like like leadership and service groups, student council, honors society, and a multi-cultural club – and a flexible schedule that enables them to make time for electives in addition to academics. Thomas also provides differentiated reading supports to all students with the goal that all students will read on grade level by the end 6th grade. Thomas also has a very diverse student body – though 85% of students are eligible for free/reduced lunch, their racial demographics include 45% Black, 20% Asian, 20% White, and 15% Hispanic students.




The Mastery Charter Schools began in 2001 when they opened their first campus, Mastery Lenfest, which still operates today. Their network includes 21 schools both in Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ serving approximately 12,000 students in grades K-12. Recognized for their ability to turn around failing neighborhood schools and drive student achievement results, Mastery Charter Schools of Philadelphia aims to prepare students with the academic and personal skills to succeed in higher education and beyond.


To learn more about Mastery Thomas Elementary Charter School or other schools in the Mastery Charter network, visit their website here.