Upstanders in Our Midst

By Brian Jordan and Rachel Adams-Kaplan, Kindergarten B teachers

Our kindergarteners have been having conversations about how we can be a friend by being an upstander who advocates for others in class, at the park, and outside of school.  As part of our discussion about what we can do as kindergartners, we have been discussing examples of upstanders who have worked to make our country and world more fair and caring for all people. After our discussions, we place pictures of these individuals to our "Upstander Wall.”

We began our upstander project In the weeks leading up Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.s birthday. The first upstander the children focused on was MLK, someone who devoted his life to working toward making the country fair.  We have added others; for example, Becca Longo, a college football kicker who advocates for women to be able to play in the NFL, and the late baseball star Roberto Clemente, known for his humanitarian work in Latin American and Caribbean countries (TPS Spanish teacher Catalina Rios shared an amazing poem about Clemente!).

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One kindergartener asked, "How can kids help change the world and be upstanders?" To answer the question, we hosted a special visit from our very own TPS 8th graders Maya and Ethan, who have participated several times in the Middle School elective “Let’s Go Lobbying.” They shared how they researched issues they care about, learned how to confidently make persuasive arguments, and then visited legislators and legislative staff in Philadelphia and all the way in Washington, DC to get their opinions heard.  They thoughtfully answered the many questions posed by our kindergarteners.

We cannot overstate the value of having our young students learn from their older TPS schoolmates. Our Upstander Wall now displays a portrait of Ethan and Maya, two young people who will inspire our kindergarteners to identify as positive change agents and advocates for what is just as they move throughTPS and life.