Strawberry Mansion

Emma Lee / WHYY

Andrew Brooking’s future at Philadelphia’s Blaine Elementary seemed uncertain.

After four years teaching there, he was vying to become an assistant principal at the end of last school year, and figured that would mean an assignment elsewhere in the city.

But a conversation with a parent from the school’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood — one home to deep poverty and violent crime — helped him understand why he needed to stay.