How does TPS Define "Progressive Education"?

Our curriculum and teaching embody the strong scientific evidence that children learn best through active, experiential learning. Our program is designed to provide context and experiences that will expand, develop, and challenge a student’s thinking, understanding, and knowledge. There are many opportunities for children to ask questions, research answers, and experience the consequences of choice.

We give consideration to how a child grows intellectually, creatively, emotionally, socially, morally, and physically. Our practice is informed by child development.  We understand that children perceive the world in different ways at various points in their development.

Faculty regularly incorporate new research about teaching and learning into their classrooms. We are a learning community that fosters love of learning, enthusiasm for meaningful work, and creative and critical thinking. We emphasize compassion, empathy, and respect as essential in shaping the civic leaders of tomorrow.

WHat does it mean to be a nonsectarian school?

The Philadelphia School is not affiliated with or restricted to a particular religious denomination. In addition, we do not practice any religious rituals, celebrate religious holidays, or display religious symbols. This does not mean, however, that we do not respect religious belief and practice. We encourage our students to share with classmates family holiday and religious traditions.  Aware of the role religion has played throughout history, we recognize that examination of the religious beliefs and practices is often key to understanding the essential nature of a culture.

When ShoulD you apply for the preschool program?

Preschool applicants must be four years old as of August 31, 2020, to enroll in the 2020–2021 academic year.

We understand that many families begin considering their educational alternatives before their child is old enough to enroll.  If you would like to learn more about The Philadelphia School, we encourage you to attend an open house even if your child is too young to apply. The more time you spend at The Philadelphia School learning about the program, the more educated a decision you will be able to make when the time comes. Feel free to attend an open house two years in a row, or more!

what do children do at the Schuylkill center for environmental education?

The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education provides a hands-on outdoor experience. Our school's long-standing environmental education program is greatly enhanced by collaboration with the Center's educators.  During the fall and spring, K-8 students and their teachers spend a full day a week there. Preschool students visit twice a year. Observations and interactions at the Schuylkill Center lead naturally to science studies and allow for the integration of other subjects as children write nature-inspired poetry and explore physical education within the natural environment.  The Schuylkill Center, located in the northwest corner of Philadelphia, in the neighborhood of Roxborough, is about a 25-minute bus ride from the school. For more information about the Schuylkill Center, visit their website.

what are the advantages of sending my child to a school that ends at eighth grade?

It is during the elementary years that a child’s academic strengths, interests, and learning styles are developed. It is then that children discover who they are as learners, friends, and community contributors.  It is important to find a school that provides a good fit for their needs at that age.

Experts suggest that the choice of a school in early childhood and the choice of high school should be independent decisions. By the time students are 13 years old, the best “match” for high school is easier to determine, and they can participate in the decision, with the support of our high school advisors.

Older students at TPS lead student government, publish their own yearbook, participate in interscholastic athletic teams, and assume the mantle of leadership as role models for the entire student body. The experience of being among the oldest students of an entire school and of being a leader in that school can be extremely important and positive for a middle school student.  In addition, our middle school students experience age-appropriate activities and events without the influence and pressure of older students.  They can be themselves, often remaining “younger” a bit longer.

Data show that few students begin in preschool or kindergarten and graduate as high school seniors from the same school. We believe that ten years is a long enough time to be in one school, and children are ready for a new venue, new friends, and new challenges.  

TPS graduates are confident and self assured, and they are well prepared to excel in a variety of academic environments. They have gone on to attend many of the region's finest public, parochial, and private schools. The Philadelphia School has a strong reputation among these schools as an excellent source of talented, well-adjusted ninth graders.

What is the philadelphia school's commitment to diversity?

The core democratic values of freedom, tolerance, justice, and equality are central to who we are and what we do.  We are committed to achieving a diverse student body that reflects ethnic, religious, and social differences and embraces LGBT families, families of adopted children, and single-parent families. We expect our students to be open-minded, fair, and inclusive. Within our curriculum we communicate multiple perspectives through the stories and experiences of many different ethnic groups, thereby fostering appreciation of diverse racial, cultural, and historical backgrounds.  We seek to instill in our students a rejection of prejudice, racism, and other pernicious forms of discrimination, oppression, and abuse.

Currently, 36 percent of our students are students of color. The diversity effort is supported by committees of parents, faculty and staff, and board members who seek to enrich the school community with a variety of multicultural activities, to help with recruitment of families and faculty of color, and to raise funds for students who might otherwise be unable to attend TPS. 

Read more about our school's diversity initiatives.

what programs does tps offer before and after school?

The Philadelphia School has a supervised before-school program called "Early Risers," which runs from 7:30 to 8 a.m. 

For most of our students, a day at TPS does not end at dismissal time. After school programming includes after school care and enrichment, a wide variety of clubs, chess, Middle School interscholastic sports, and music lessons.  Read more about our auxiliary programming.

what role can parents play at tps?

The Philadelphia School encourages parent involvement. As a school founded by parents, TPS truly values parental support of our mission and educational program.

We have an active parents association, TPSA (The Philadelphia School Association), whose mission is to support TPS families by facilitating communication, providing enrichment and outreach opportunities, and sponsoring community-building events. TPSA meets monthly and all parents and guardians are invited to attend and participate in planning and conversation.  The parent-led group Family Diversity @ TPS plans and facilitates parent education events and organizes student and parent participation in diversity and equity activities offered in the city. 

Parents also chaperone trips and lend their expertise in the classroom. Many participate on the Board of Trustees and its committees. The Philadelphia School is grateful for the involvement of parents in the life of their children's school.

how does the TUITION ASSISTANCE process work?

Families submit financial information to the School and Student Services (SSS), an independent agency to which many independent schools throughout the US subscribe.  SSS does a comprehensive assessment of the financial data provided to determine a family’s estimated financial need.  The Philadelphia School’s Tuition Assistance Committee then confidentially reviews each family’s need.  Funds are allocated based on the school’s tuition assistance policy and available funds.

Tuition assistance awards are communicated to new families in mid-February and to current families in early March. A tuition assistance application must be submitted each year.  The school attempts to provide a consistent level of support each year, assuming that there are no significant changes in the family’s financial situation.

 For a full description of our tuition assistance program, click here.

what are the next steps for tps graduates?

Admission directors consider our students assets to their high school programs. Our graduating students are valued as flexible thinkers, skillful writers, independent learners, talented athletes and artists, and collaborative team members. Here are the schools at which members of the Class of 2017 have enrolled:  

  • Special Admission Public High Schools: Carver High School of Engineering and Science, Central High School, The Philadelphia High School for Girls, and Science Leadership Academy

  • Independent Schools: The City School, Crefeld School, Friends' Central School, Friends Select School, Germantown Friends School, The Shipley School, and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.

  • Boarding Schools: Church Farm School, Girard College, West Nottingham Academy

Some of the colleges and universities chosen by recent graduates are

  • Babson College

  • Carnegie Mellon University (5-year architecture program)

  • Colgate University

  • Drexel University

  • Eastern University

  • Harvard University

  • Ithaca College

  • Johns Hopkins University

  • The Juilliard School

  • McGill University

  • NYU Tisch School for the Arts (Kanbar Institute of Film & Television)

  • Penn State University

  • Pitzer College

  • Spelman College

  • Stanford University

  • University of Chicago

  • University of Pennsylvania

  • University of Michigan

  • University of Richmond

  • University of Vermont

  • University of Wisconsin

  • Wellesley College

  • Wesleyan University

  • Yale University

Learn more about our high school process.

what neighborhoods do students come from?

Students who attended The Philadelphia School came from more than 30 different neighborhoods. Many of our students come from Center City, but we also have a number of students coming from West Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, Germantown, and Mount Airy. TPS students also reside in Montgomery County.