Last year, we introduced our strategic plan, Ours to Shape, that will guide the future of TPS for the next five years.
Building upon TPS’ mission and strengths, Ours to Shape targets three ambitious goals for the future: to broaden our place-based learning, to expand experiential learning, and to lead the way in progressive education. For more information, please contact our advancement office.
- Embrace Philadelphia as a classroom
- Create dedicated STEAM spaces
- Foster school community through building improvements
- Renovate classrooms to support progressive teaching and learning
- Establish long-term, curricular-based partnerships in the city.
- Engage in hands-on service learning
- Implement a comprehensive technology and STEAM program
- Enhance our middle school leadership experience
- Expand professional development opportunities
- Create a teacher training program
- Elevate TPS as a leader of progressive education
TPS was more than a school. It was a family environment that fostered a sense of security and belonging.Class of 1998 alum
It is definitely the one place that I can point to and say ‘this environment shaped me into who I am today.’Class of 2012 alum
Place-based learning has been central to TPS pedagogy since our beginnings, with a focus on using locations throughout the city and country as extended classrooms. Our belief is that “place” serves as an additional teacher for students, allowing them to explore and use real world experiences to deepen their learning.
Our students build inquiry skills, learn how to adapt to new environments, and gain a better understanding of themselves and their place in the world. We are working to enhance our outdoor learning program and also looking at purposeful learning in the city, leveraging the best assets the city has to offer, such as its university science labs, social service organizations, neighborhoods, and educational institutions.
Equally as important is how physical classroom space is used to deepen learning experiences. Our vision is to create enhanced community spaces that allow for collaborative, cross curricular learning. As a part of the Ours to Shape vision, but also a distinct endeavor unto itself, we have completed a master plan of our Lombard campus, identifying three key areas of focus that will dramatically enhance place-based learning for our students and teachers. These upgrades will be done in four phases, with the goal of completing renovations by 2025. We are now interviewing architects to lead us through the next phase of the post master plan design process.
Experiential learning is a key component of a progressive education and our educational approach at TPS.
We believe education should help children become self-aware, observant, action-oriented citizens. We emphasize integrating real world experiences and problem solving into our curriculum. We use the city, the country, and the classroom as sites for learning everyday.
We are working to build specific curricular-based external partnerships that will help us advance our mission and give our students a deeper understanding of what it means to be an active and informed citizen in the city. These partnerships include outdoor learning sites, neighborhood civic associations, and organizations that promote social justice. Working with museums, colleges, and universities will also help enrich the learning experience for our students. We expect to build these partnerships with our students at the center and allow them to help direct the relationships we build and maintain over time.
Hands-on Service Learning
Service learning has been, and continues to be, at the heart of the educational experience at TPS. We will enhance the service learning component of our curriculum so that students are diving deeper into social justice and sustainability topics. We expect to do this through enhanced partnerships (mentioned above), faculty professional development, and dedicated staff to implement and sustain our service learning program.
A Middle School Leadership Experience
TPS has been purposeful in creating an educational experience that starts in preschool and ends in eighth grade, where we graduate confident and self-aware leaders. As the oldest students on campus, middle schoolers have unique opportunities to be leaders in our community. Additionally, having come to know themselves deeply as learners while at TPS, our middle schoolers are able to be active participants in the process of selecting the high school that will best allow their passions and dreams to thrive.
Our middle schoolers are already demonstrating leadership in many ways, such as roles in student council, leading family circles, organizing the talent show, and embarking in service projects. Our vision for the future is to create a formal leadership experience, where students do more purposeful real-world projects outside of school. What this could look like in practice is week-long immersive research in a lab at a nearby institution, shadowing an architect who is designing a nearby building, or a student working on a nearby farm, learning about harvesting and supply chain management.
We are inspired by the possibilities that these enhancements will bring to our students, teachers, and the broader community. While each of these elements is a critical component in our strategic plan, not all will be implemented at once and will be phased out over the next five years. Many of these enhancements will also require additional philanthropic support to take shape. If you are interested in learning more about these programs, please contact our advancement office.
Our mission states that The Philadelphia School educates children for a future that is impossible to know but not impossible to shape. This could not be more evident in our vision for our future STEAM program, a program that will prepare students for the scientific and technological advances that haven’t even been imagined yet. Expansion of our STEAM program will involve additional faculty and more professional development for all, more spaces for lab work, and more integration into the curriculum at each grade level.
People: It will come to life with additional faculty who have a deep understanding of both robotics and computer science concepts and interdisciplinary learning. Professional development for current faculty and staff will be prioritized.
Place: The redesigned laboratory spaces will offer more opportunities to explore, to experiment, and pursue scientific inquiry.
Process: We intend to expand project-based inquiry through technology and laboratory experiences and helping to solve real world problems.
Sharing Our Story with the Educational Community
In keeping with the Ours to Shape vision to serve as a leader and innovator in teaching and learning, several members of our leadership team are currently scheduled to speak at area conferences. These educational forums allow TPS to not only share our own expertise and mentorship, but to increase our engagement with other colleagues in the field and help us identify new strategies to benefit TPS students. They also help us build a pipeline of faculty and staff for the future. Our goal is to share our expertise with the educational community in conferences and workshops such as The National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference, The Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools (PAIS), The Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS), Black Male Educators Convening, Innovative Schools Summit, and The People of Color Conference. Additionally, many of our faculty and staff members have been featured in the media and provided their expertise to local universities. Our goal is to increase their visibility even more.
In the same way that we pay close attention to the individual learning styles of each of our students, we support our faculty and staff in their lifelong learning journeys. We are working to design a more robust professional development program that meets teachers where they are and supports them in areas that they want to learn and grow. We also will support professional development for areas of focus in the other parts of our strategic visions such as STEAM based learning. Additionally, we want to build a program that makes TPS the educational destination for teachers looking to join a strong teaching community. Creating a collaboration with nearby universities will ensure that talented educators have experience in progressive teaching methods. With our team-teaching model in place, our hope is to help build the future generation of teachers.
For more information about supporting the Ours to Shape Strategic Plan please contact, firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 545-5323, ext. 275.