Every school has a story. One particularly rich and remarkable story is part of LOGAN Hope, a K-8 Christian school in the Logan neighborhood of Philadelphia.
The “LOGAN” in “LOGAN Hope” simultaneously represents the community the school serves, as well as its mission: “LOving God And Neighbor.” The school is preparing to start its 19th year of serving the community when the Fall Term kicks off later this month.
According to Jim Sovocool, Head of School since 2017, LOGAN Hope is the result of a mission God placed on the hearts of Ken and Anita McBain. 20 years ago, the McBains were teaching English to Cambodians who had settled in Logan, when they felt called to expand their ministry to the children and grandchildren of these immigrants. They not only wanted to teach children English, but they wanted to give this rising generation a knowledge of who God is. The McBains wanted to see these children develop not only strong minds, but strong hearts, as well. LOGAN Hope was started in 2002.
Jim, who grew up in the Main Line suburb of Wayne, PA, first came to LOGAN Hope when he was a high school freshman. A member of Wayne’s Church of the Savior, Jim went to work at LOGAN Hope’s summer camp for neighborhood kids—a program that continues to this day (even in the age of COVID!). It was there that the Lord developed a heart for these kids, and a heart for urban education. After graduating from school himself, Jim interviewed as a teacher at LOGAN Hope, and taught Grades 3 and 4 for six years prior to becoming Head of School.
When I asked Jim what LOGAN Hope offers its students to help them succeed, he said two things. First is the discipleship that happens with each of the students. “School, at its core, is a discipleship process,” Jim told me. Teachers get to know their students personally as well as academically. This enables teachers to become familiar with the spiritual needs of their students and their students’ families. These kinds of supportive, encouraging relationships make a huge difference in the lives of children and their families, who might otherwise be considered “at risk” and overlooked by the larger culture.
Just from working with Jim this winter and spring, I can affirm that Jim’s approach is helpful. LOGAN Hope’s proactive interactions with students and their families throughout the spring COVID-19 stay-at-home order provided grounding, encouragement, and no small amount of practical help to the school’s students and families. Through regular interactions with students and parents, teachers attended to families’ spiritual needs as well as educational, social, and nutritional needs.
The second thing Jim said helps students succeed at LOGAN Hope is the school’s commitment to small class size. Classes typically consist of 10-12 students, fostering the close, personal relationships mentioned above. That kind of structure enables teachers to guide students based on the students’ own needs and strengths. It also fosters a sense of community within the class and the school—a sense of family.
And family is a strong concept at LOGAN Hope. Jim says that LOGAN Hope is rooted in serving the neighborhood, and to seeing the families in the neighborhood flourish. Students, most of whom come from Logan and two-thirds of whom are of Cambodian heritage, participate in service projects to improve the neighborhood where they live. The school also has a close connection with a neighborhood Cambodian church, and hosts the church’s youth group in the school building.
Looking to the future, Jim and the LOGAN Hope Board want to see the school draw parents more and more into the life of the school, making the school an even greater resource for the community.
Children’s Jubilee Fund is pleased to be connected with LOGAN Hope, and to support it financially through scholarship grants to help keep the school’s tuition affordable. Please pray for Jim Sovocool and for all of the staff and families of LOGAN Hope!
Tim Geiger (M.Div.) is Executive Director of Children's Jubilee Fund. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Tim has lived in or around the city most of his life. His undergraduate studies done at the Community College of Philadelphia, Tim went on to earn a Master of Divinity Degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He is ordained as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. Prior to serving at Children's Jubilee Fund, Tim worked for the Internal Revenue Service, The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Harvest USA, where he also served as Executive Director and then President from 2012-2019. Tim lives with his wife and daughter just outside of Philadelphia.
Children's Jubilee Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1997 to provide tuition grants to Christian schools in the Philadelphia metro area that serve underprivileged students. These grants are then awarded by the schools as scholarships to students who meet income and residency guidelines. Each year, Jubilee provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants that, in turn, help hundreds of students in Philadelphia, Delaware, Montgomery, and Camden Counties achieve their God-given academic and personal potential. Children's Jubilee Fund is an entirely donor-supported organization.