Program Highlights

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 individual learner, from the artist to the math whiz. Some of the curriculum 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 Thus, 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 the Youngest Scholars program help academically talented students take their research skills and knowledge to the next level. Gesu also offers especially motivated and talented students assistance with placement into academically challenging secondary schools.


Remedial programs

Many of Gesu’s students start school behind their suburban peers. Others have special learning needs that require additional assistance. Students who need extra academic assistance can get the help they need in our Resource Room, Learning Support Program, and YET afterschool literacy program, or through state supported programs such as Title I. Our army of devoted volunteers also provides extra support and attention for students who need it.


Single gender classrooms

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


Nurturing creativity

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


Programs for 21st century leaders

With a faith-based foundation and an education relevant to today’s world, Gesu’s students grow into responsible citizens of our society and our planet. Weekly sessions in the fully-equipped, staffed science lab and classes in computer technology give students the skills to tackle tomorrow’s challenges.


Social support

Gesu’s neighborhood has the second highest incidence of major crimes in Philadelphia (by police district), and one out of three of our families live below the Federal Poverty Level.2 North Philadelphia is a tough place to grow up, and many of our students bring fear, hunger and other problems with them to school every day. Gesu offers two full-time counselors, a full-time social worker and other professional support to help students and families with the challenges they may face. Meet the counseling staff.

Complete list of curricular offerings and extracurricular activities.



  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
  2. The Pew Charitable Trusts. Philadelphia 2013: The State of the City. Retrieved from
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