Reflections on TPS

December 2013

It is hard to believe that it is already December; just a few months ago I was a brand new community member at The Philadelphia School. Over the course of the fall, I have had the great honor of getting to know the extraordinary and dedicated faculty and staff, the talented and creative students and you, the enthusiastic and supportive families. You have shared your thoughts, ideas and visions.  As a result, two wonderful themes have emerged:  honoring the rich tradition of TPS and continuing to innovate and grow as we move forward. The Philadelphia School is a place where innovation has been and will continue to be at the heart of everything we do. 

Our mission, as a progressive school and vibrant learning community, is to educate the character and intellect of children.  We want our students to become engaged citizens who are critical thinkers, creative problem solvers, and lifelong learners.

Curiosity, investigation and inquiry are at the center of our program. As a community, we encourage children to follow their interests and delve into challenges in meaningful ways. Ideas are challenged and getting the right answer is part of the process.  Our approach encourages students to take risks individually and as a group allows them to see failure as a means to thinking differently about possibilities.

To ensure that we cultivate our future leaders, innovators and engaged citizens, we live our mission and commitment to progressive education every day:

  • For our preschoolers and kindergarteners, play and community involvement go hand and hand with thematic learning at their Invention Station and the exploration of slugs and spiders.
  • Primary units will soon begin their winter thematic study of The City with a visit to the Legere exhibit, “Modern Art and the Metropolis” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art integrating the city and the classroom.
  • Just recently, the third graders spent time reading Kadir Nelson’s biography about Nelson Mandela connecting current events to their study of social justice and freedom.
  • The Junior Unit engaged in dynamic conversations after a visit to the Penn Museum as part of their study of Ancient Greece and Egypt
  • Sixth graders planted trees on both sides of 25th Street.  This “green” initiative is a beautiful example of our student leaders making a difference and learning by doing.
  • Our seventh graders are delving into questions about leadership and perseverance as they read, Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance.
  • And, as leaders of TPS, eighth graders are modeling the dynamic range of progressive learning. Using theater as a medium of communication, they are stretching from a live performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet to the filming of their own “Star Trek” chemistry extravaganza! 

As we look to the future, here are a few initiatives to be watching for:

  • Design Thinking Lab and the Maker Space. We are in the final stages of planning and designing two exciting labs in the new Garage space.  Both spaces will allow students in preschool through eighth grade the opportunity to explore, design and create in a space that intentionally encourages trial and error. It is designed to be a space where big ideas and great thinking converge. Our future inventors, engineers and designers are right here at TPS.
  • Makers in Our Midst: A TPS Arts Sharing Space.  TPS is featuring paintings, photos and sculpture from our in-house and community artists.   Students are learning about the different artists and engaging with the installations.
  • Conversations about Progressive Education.   Join us for conversations of the many facets and merit of progressive education.  A schedule will be available in early January.

Our future is bright!  Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday season and all the best in 2014.  Thank you for sharing your children with us; TPS is indeed a joyful and inspirational community!