How to Talk to Your Kids About Race

By JJ Shirley, President, TPSA

Last Thursday, my husband Raphael and I attended the Progressive Talk brought to the TPS community by Brian L. Johnson (Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), TPSA, and the Family Diversity Committee (FDC). As white parents of three white boys, we recognize the need for conversations in our home about race and racism, but we are not necessarily sure how to go about having them. We had attended previous talks on similar topics, and while informative and interesting, they had left us feeling as though we still didn’t know what to do. We were both hoping to come away from Thursday’s talk with some tools to help us navigate a topic with which we have little direct experience.


The evening’s format proved to be extremely useful, with discussion and research from the presenters –Brian L. Johnson and TPS parents Dayna Muniz (FDC) and Michele McKenna (FDC) – followed by breakout scenario workshops. The workshops afforded the parents in attendance the opportunity to grapple with real-life possibilities and exchange ideas for how to deal with them ourselves and in relation to our children. Having these multiple perspectives, which were then shared with the entire group, provided us with new ways to think about and approach the issue of race and racism, both within our family and as we encounter it in the world.

For those of you unable to attend the event, I encourage you to look through Talking About Race, a document created by Brian, Dayna, and Michele that has several useful resources for talking about race. I also encourage those in our community who are looking for help and guidance, on any topic, to attend presentations like this one. You will be surprised at how much you come away with.

Primary Unit Mercado

Durante la semana pasada los estudiantes de Primaria celebraron una tradición muy esperada por el Departamento de Español llamado: “El Mercado”. Las maestras de Primaria, Giovana y Tiziana, transformaron el área de Patagonia con un colorido mercado lleno de frutas y vegetales. Los niños compraron lo que quisieron comer en español con pesos de mentira y así practicaron el idioma por medio de esta actividad. Ellos disfrutaron mucho de ésta experiencia interactiva, y fue un orgullo ver como pudieron utilizar el idioma. Culminamos la actividad cantando las canciones “Las Frutas” y “Soy Una Pizza”. ¡Mil gracias a todos los padres que vinieron a ayudarnos para que nuestro evento fuese todo un éxito! ¡Difruten de las fotos de nuestro mercado! 

Last week, Primary Unit students celebrated the end of the school year by participating in the Spanish department’s tradition of el mercado (market). Giovana and Tiziana transformed the Patagonia area into a colorful mercado, complete with an array of frutas y vegetales (fruits and vegetables). The students practiced their communication skills by exchanging pretend pesos for comida (food) en español. They truly enjoyed this interactive experience, and we were excited to witness their pride in using their Spanish skills. We capped off the morning with a sing-along to two Spanish songs Las Frutas and Soy Una Pizza. A big thank you to the parents who volunteered to make this event a success. Enjoy these pictures from nuestro mercado!

Garage Transformed into a Mercado

This week the Garage was transformed into an open air market (Mercado) complete with tables of food, juices, and festive decorations to celebrate the Spanish that preschool and kindergarten students have been learning. The Mercado was filled with our Spanish-speaking children who used Spanish phrases to ask for their treats and convey politeness—por favor and gracias

Children danced (baila, baila, baila), sang, and spoke in Spanish. They experienced firsthand the relevance of conversational Spanish as a way to meet needs and showcase all they have learned this year in our integrated Spanish program.

We encourage parents to surprise your children with some Spanish at home: mercado/market, manzana/apple, pera/pear, plàtano/banana, melón/melon, uvas/grapes, fresas/strawberries, limón/lemon, jugo/juice and galletas/cookies.

Thank you to our Spanish-speaking parent volunteers and to early childhood teachers Madeline Leonard, Brian Jordan, Melissa Roldan-Stills and Ramsey Reyes who helped make the Mercado a great success!

(Stay tuned for news about the Primary Unit Mercado!)

Race Institute at TPS

by Cinda Edgerton, Primary Unit teacher

We gathered as a group on Thursday, and as a way to get a sense of who was in the room, we arranged ourselves in order of how close to TPS we were born and then shared a brief message about ourselves.  This was the start of a three-day Race Institute workshop hosted by TPS.

The intent of the workshop was to help us develop an understanding of our own racial identity. We were given much written information and used various exercises to develop and explore our own biases, assumptions, and insights.  A few notable examples were the following:

  • We used a "chalk talk" format to compare terms by writing our own thoughts on the terms and responding to the comments of others. For example, we compared "racial microaggression" with "collusion," "equity and justice" with "equality," "color blindness" with "racism," "white privilege" with "cultural appropriation," and "multiculturalism" with "anti-racism."
  • We gathered feelings we associated with being in the margins of society and compared them to feelings with being in mainstream, and then we discussed the ways those feelings manifest in behavior, and the assumptions that arise from those behaviors.
  • We heard from a panel of high school students from Friends Select School who spoke about their experiences as students of color in their school, and we had the valuable opportunity to hear their thoughts on ways that teachers could be allies to them.

We met in a variety of structures, sometimes whole group, sometimes small groups, and also in affinity groups. Over the course of the three days, we shared many stories. I appreciated the skill with which we were led by Toni Williamson and Sarah Halley, as we explored topics that were intensely personal, and sometimes painful.

I am very grateful to have participated in this work. I made new connections that I treasure, and I was so glad to have been in the company of Terry Maguire, Chantal Barr, Tim Jones, and Steve Bartholomew.  It's my hope that we will continue the difficult and crucial work we engaged in over the three days.

9th Graders Abroad

TPS alumni Natalia Hardy '16 and Josh Zeelander '16 are two of six ninth-graders at GFS who are spending a month in Tlaxacla, Mexico, as part of an exchange program with Escuela Tecnica No. 1 "Xicohtencatl Axayacatzin."  They are living with students and their families and attending school there.  In April they will welcome their Mexican hosts in Philadelphia.