Program Highlights

Why Gesu Works

The IHM conviction that every child can learn and the Jesuit ideal of cura personalis, or care of the whole person, guide our approach. At Gesu we offer a holistic education to address the needs of each learner, from the artist to the math whiz. Some curricular and program highlights at Gesu include:

Advanced Coursework

Research has shown that bright, low-income children frequently slip through the cracks and fall behind their higher-income peers as they progress through school, a phenomenon known as the Achievement Trap.1 Even very bright children need extra support to achieve their full potential, support which Gesu readily offers. Advanced math classes and the Backe Advanced Writing program stretch the minds of talented students. Extracurricular and co-curricular programs like Youngest Scholars help academically talented students take their knowledge to the next level. Gesu also offers guidance with placement into academically challenging secondary schools.

Remedial Programs

Many of Gesu’s students start school needing extra support. Others have special learning needs that require additional assistance. Students who need extra academic assistance can receive the help they need in our Resource Room, Learning Support Program, and Youth Education for Tomorrow (YET) after-school literacy program, or through state-supported programs such as Title I. Volunteers also provide extra support for students who need it.

Soft Skills Development

Gesu School affirms that soft skills, such as determination and confidence, are teachable. We deliberately weave these skills into our curriculum from Pre-K through 8th grade. This initiative, the MAGIS of Gesu, covers five essential skills: Motivation, Awareness, Grit, Independence, and Social Competence.

Single-Gender Classrooms

In 3rd through 8th grades, Gesu students are placed into all-girl or all-boy classrooms, led by a strong role model of the same gender. Gesu created single-gender classrooms in 1994 with the goal of keeping our male students engaged in learning. By separating the genders at a particularly vulnerable age when boys’ and girls’ learning styles diverge, we are able to prevent students — especially boys — from losing interest in school.

Nurturing Creativity

There are countless stories of the challenging child whose shining accomplishment is creative talent. But all children benefit from arts education. With your help, every Gesu child participates in weekly art and music programs, while oral speech is woven throughout the curriculum. The Gesu Gospel Choir, ballroom dancing through Dancing With the Students, dance with The Rock School for Dance Education, and other activities, such as yoga, whether after school or in the classroom, ensure that Gesu students are introduced to broad cultural experiences.

STEM Initiatives

Gesu students dive into the sciences in Pre-K. Weekly lessons in our science lab accompany classroom instruction and ensure that students get hands-on experience investigating topics from biology to environmental science. Our STEM initiatives immerse students in these fields and prepare them for top high schools. Each grade uses cutting-edge technology in its classroom. Intentionally small math classes, remedial to advanced, provide individualized instruction.

Social Support

Gesu is located in Police District 22, the second most violent district in Philadelphia.2 One out of three of our families have an annual income of less than $30,000. North Philadelphia  can be a tough place to grow up, and many students bring fear, hunger, and other concerns with them to school. Gesu offers two full-time counselors, two part-time counselors, and a full-time social worker to help students and families with the challenges they may face. Staff address issues such as grief and bereavement, poverty-related challenges, and emotional and academic needs through individual and group counseling, classroom lessons, workshops, and referrals to outside resources. Meet the counseling staff.


  1. Joshua S. Wyner, John M. Bridgeland, and John J. DiIulio Jr. Achievement Trap: How America is failing millions of high-achieving students from lower-income families. Jack Kent Cooke Foundation & Civic Enterprises, LLC. Retrieved from www.jkcf.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Achievement_Trap.pdf
  2. The Pew Chartiable Trusts. Philadelphia State of the City 2015, March 2015, p. 29. Retrieved from www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/assets/2015/11/2015-state-of-the-city-report_w...