After 20 years of teaching, Veronica Joyner founded her own school where students can thrive

Emerald Pellot

Veronica Joyner has been an educator for 40 years. She founded the Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School of Philadelphia after working as a teacher for two decades. Joyner realized she could do a better job running a school so she founded her own in 1999, and today, the charter school still helps children thrive through education to become upstanding citizens. 

Joyner has turned the lives around of many students who were labeled as “problem” children. One of them is Daniel Jackson, head basketball coach and lunchroom supervisor at the school today. He entered Joyner’s school as a freshman when it first opened its doors.

“She gave me an opportunity to be a student here in 1999,” Jackson told In The Know. “She took me as one of her own. Showing me that I had something in me that I didn’t even see in myself and instill leadership qualities in me to help me become the man I am today.” 

Jackson has thrived at the school ever since, becoming the youngest coach to ever win the basketball state championship in Pennsylvania. 

“96 percent of our graduates come from poverty,” Joyner told In The Know. “So it’s always amazing that people say that these students that are impoverished are going to college.” 

Joyner has a team of counselors dedicated to finding every student college scholarships so that money isn’t a barrier to education. So far 32 graduates have received full scholarships. The school also pays for every student’s textbooks and dorm fees as long as they are in college. 

“Their education should not be determined by their zip code,” Joyner told In The Know. “Every child has a right to a free and appropriate education.” 

Despite its success rate, the high school doesn’t have a gym and is outgrowing its location. But Joyner’s students don’t mind, they’ve come to rely on the principal with 18 years of perfect attendance. The educator hopes that when she can no longer work her graduates, many of whom are already employed at the school, will take over.

“I do what I do because I care and I do what I do because I want to see children become successful and become good citizens and give back,” Joyner told In The Know.

If you enjoyed this story, you might also like reading about this 87-year-old dancer who empowers black ballerinas in Philadelphia.

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