All Universal Schools Closed Until Further Notice

Governor Wolf announced that all schools will remain closed until further notice as they work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of all Pennsylvanians. Thank you for your patience through these uncertain and constantly evolving circumstances.

Please read the most recent letter from Dr. Penny Nixon


For Local Education Agencies That Participate in the National School Lunch Program

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program Frequently Asked Question

Grab-and-go meal sites continue to operate for our students. Updated locations and times are HERE.

K-12 Remote Learning Packets continue to be available on each Universal School's site. It is our hope that all students in the City of Philadelphia will engage in learning activities during this very difficult time. 

Find your school HERE or more activities HERE.

Please visit the Coronavirus Information Hub often for the most up-to-date information, as it becomes available.
Thank you for flexibility and understanding during this difficult time. Please stay safe.

We do it with P.R.I.D.E.

"Personal Responsibility In our Determined Excellence"

Welcome to Universal Vare STEM & ARTS Academy Middle School 

May/June 2020 Principal's Message

 Congratulations! We have successfully navigated through our sixth week of virtual online learning. I appreciate all of the support that you have given to the scholars during this challenging time. The last day for scholars will be 12:00 noon on June 15, 2020. Just a reminder, school will be closed on Monday, May 25, 2020 for Memorial Day, and Tuesday, May 26, 2020 for EID. Classes for all scholars will resume on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. sharp. 

We are very disappointed that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our plans to formally celebrate the Closing Exercises for our 8th grade scholars. Over the past school year, we have watched our scholars grow and mature into young adults who are ready to embark upon their next chapter of life, high school. As the new principal of Universal Vare Charter School, I was looking forward to transitioning my first class of 8th grade scholars.  In lieu of a formal closing ceremony, we are inviting our 8th grade scholars to come to the school on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 to pick up their school belongings and to receive a VARE Closing Exercise memento.

Parents and guardians, in order to ensure safety, we will follow the CDC guidelines.  Please follow the scheduled times for students to pick up their school belongings:

  • Homeroom 8-1:--- 9:00 a.m.--9:45 a.m.
  • Homeroom 8-2: ---9:45 a.m.--10:30 a.m.
  • Homeroom 8-3:---10:30- a.m.-11:15 a.m.
  • Homeroom 8-4 & Ms. Salomon: 11:15am-12:00pm

Students will be required to maintain the social distancing guidelines by standing 6 feet apart, and they must wear a mask and gloves to receive your items. 

In order for final report cards to be released to the high school, ALL CHROMEBOOKS MUST BE RETURNED ON THE SAME DAY when picking up school belongings.  If any scholars are unable to come on June 10, 2020 at the designated time, please call the school (215-952-8611) to make arrangements for a later pickup date.

Parents/Guardians, please continue to check the VARE website throughout the summer for updates on the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year.  Lastly, I extend my sincere appreciation to all VARE parents/guardians for making my first year at Universal Vare a truly successful and rewarding experience!

Everyone, please stay healthy, safe, and have an enjoyable summer!


Karen Howell-Toomer, MS. Ed.


Universal Vare Remote Learning Packets

Reading/ English Language Arts

- 5th Grade -




- 6th Grade -




- 7th Grade -




- 8th Grade -




Parent & Teacher Math Guides

5th Grade

6th Grade

7th Grade

8th Grade


At Our School


On Saturday January 11, 2020 Our Universal Vare Robotics Team entered the first LEGO League Regional Qualifier Tournament at Penn Alexander School for the first time as a rookie team. Our team prepared three presentations for the judges. We also designed, built and programmed our LEGO Robot using the EV3 software. At the competition our team placed 14th out of 18 schools, and we received many compliments from students and adults alike about how passionate we are and how much heart we displayed!

Please click below to see a preview of our determination!

During our Professional Development on Oct 23, Our teachers were analyzing Benchmark Data and Mr. Lamb shared a Best Teacher Practice.

The Art class beautifying our school.

2019-2020 Vare Staff

Universal Vare STEM & Arts Academy Middle School

2100 South 24th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19145

Phone: 215-952-8611

Fax: 267-239-5866

School Leadership

Principal: Karen Howell-Toomer

Assistant Principal: Aaron Smith

Director of Academics: Stephani Finnin

Director of Academics: Tina Jean-Pierre

About Universal Vare

At Universal Vare, we specialize in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and the arts. Under our academy model, we provide our scholars the opportunity to explore their interests in the STEM and arts field through a project based curriculum. We guide scholars towards independence while providing the support they need. We offer parents and students the educational tools scholars need to succeed in middle school and beyond. Project Lead the Way at Universal Vare

Connecting Parents and Schools to Increase Achievement

We encourage you to participate in one of the many opportunities such as the Home and School Association, School Advisory Councils (SAC) and/or volunteer as a teacher assistant/aide, food pantry worker, or just read to our preschoolers.

For more information, contact the Universal Vare STEM & Arts Academy at (215) 952-8611 or send us an email.