“I walked through the muddy creek in my little green rainboots and spent every lunch and recess building a fort with my classmates. We trudged along, wearing bright-colored clothing contrasting with the muted fall colors around us. Standing side by side, we carried logs three times our size and added them to our fort. It was a time where we had the freedom to take matters into our own hands, in our country classroom.” Sydney, TPS Class of 2016

Environmental education has been integral to The Philadelphia School since its founding in 1972. Our students begin their scientific education by focusing on what is familiar – animals, plants, soil, and weather – in order to develop the confidence to grapple with increasingly more abstract and complex concepts.

Our Country Classroom

Kindergarten through eighth grade classes spend a day each week in the fall and spring at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, a 340-acre open space area within Philadelphia's city limits. Preschoolers visit the Center twice a year. The property features four miles of hiking trails and a variety of habitats, including woodlands, meadows, teaching ponds, and wetlands. The Schuylkill Center's education staff offer programmatic support and professional development.

Our "country classroom" program provides the hands-on experience to which we relate our science program, extending classroom studies in environmental, life, physical, and earth and space sciences. While science is a natural fit with the outdoors, teachers also use the time for exploration, discovery, art, writing, math, and other disciplines. Outdoor lessons often build on concepts begun in the classroom, and observations and data are likewise brought back to school for further reflection.

Our country site also offers students the chance to sit, hike, listen, and explore with a sense of freedom and solitude that is often hard to come by in the city. This intimate and personal connection to nature encourages our children to become involved and knowledgeable environmental stewards.

Get a sense of our students' appreciation of the natural world around them in a video they made to celebrate Earth Day.