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2008 –2013

The Philadelphia School


S T R AT E G I C P L A N

The Enduring Vision:


City Country Classroom
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I hope TPS continues all the


funny little traditions that made my
TPS experience so memorable.
— ALUMNI SURVEY RESPONSE

Strategic Planning Committee


Dan Diadul, President, Board of Trustees
Amy Purcell Vorenberg, Head of School
Co-chairs
Jeff Hurok
Gina Marie Moore
Medha Narvekar

Robert Adelson Randy Mintz Presant


Michael Berman ‘84 Natasha Mitchell ‘93
Susan Bodley Jeffrey Mordan
David Colman Betsy Neiva
Shannon Coulter Carlye Nelson-Major
Alisa Field Mady Prowler
Nica Waters Fleming Nancy Rafferty
Jill Garland Jennifer Rice
Maureen Glaccum Alyssa Rickels
Fred Goodman Darren Spielman ‘86
Frank Gould Mary Stitt
Stephen Kastenberg Marco Velis
Zachary Klehr ‘92 Lois West
Emily Barry Marston
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The Philadelphia School is a coeducational, nonsectarian independent school


educating children from preschool through eighth grade. As a progressive school and

Mission vibrant learning community, our mission 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.

Commitments
With an eye to our future
needs, our strategic plan renews
the school’s mission and its fun-
damental commitments as
• a progressive school educating
preschoolers through eighth
graders
• a school committed to being a The Philadelphia School was founded in 1972, yet progressive education has been around since the
diverse community 1880s, when Francis Parker, often called the father of progressive education, developed an approach to
• a City Country Classroom education that rejected rote learning and enlisted the natural curiosity of children.
where children learn to be
active stewards of the urban
and natural environments
STRATEGIC GOAL 1
Reaffirm our commitment to progressive education in the context of a City
Country Classroom as it educates its students in the 21st Century.
• Articulate what we mean by progressive education through documentation of core values
and the skills, content, assessments, and resources used and developed across subject areas
throughout the school.
• Enhance the curriculum in support of multicultural and affective education and the experience
of the whole child.
• In the context of 21st-Century demographics and global society, review science, technology,
and Spanish curricula.
• Explore further integration of “country” elements in a city campus.
• Provide additional experiences in drama across the units.
• Examine all auxiliary after-school and summer programs to clarify program offerings and
policies.
• Cultivate connections to other progressive institutions in the region and across the nation.

Progress to Date
The faculty’s Curriculum Study Group, which began its work in fall 2007 with a
comprehensive review of the mathematics curriculum, is creating a framework,
process, and schedule for curricular review in all disciplines.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATE RICCARDI

Administrators and faculty devoted a substantial amount of in-service time in fall


2008 to articulate the school’s core values.
A teacher exchange program with the New City School in St. Louis began in
November 2008, allowing faculty and administrators to spend a meaningful amount
of time at another progressive school.
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The Philadelphia School opened its doors 36 years ago with an enrollment of 14. In 2008 the school enrolled
380 children and enjoyed an impressively high admissions yield and low attrition rate. As we move forward, we
need to identify our optimal size, balancing the changing demographics of the city with the benefits of our “small
school” feel.

STRATEGIC GOAL 2
Manage our enrollment to achieve an optimal school size, with low student-to-teacher
ratios in support of a “small school” feeling within a diverse community.
• Review our admission policies and procedures to ensure their effectiveness in enrolling students
who will succeed in a progressive school environment.
• Fully examine the school’s sibling and affiliate policy and its effect on enrollment trends.
• Assess entry and attrition points across the school, focusing on opportunities for adding new
students in the upper grades.

Progress to Date
In April 2008, the Board of Trustees approved a target enrollment of 450 students by
2016 and a transition to age 4 as the starting age for admission beginning in 2009.

TPS shaped who I am today, and it is


a place I will always remember.
— ALUMNI SURVEY RESPONSE
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Throughout its history, The Philadelphia School has had an extraordinarily talented and dedicated faculty, staff,
and board of trustees. The school is indebted to them, as are the hundreds of students who have benefited from
a TPS education.

STRATEGIC GOAL 3
Invest in and support a diverse, talented, and committed faculty, staff, and board of
trustees.
• Provide greater administrative support for faculty and their programs.
• Provide greater opportunities for professional development and strengthen the connection between
professional development and teacher evaluation.
• Articulate a clear hiring protocol and establish an orientation program or mentoring system for
new teachers.
• Publish a comprehensive employee handbook.
• Regularly review salaries and benefits to remain competitive in the marketplace and to optimize
opportunities for recruiting and retaining an excellent and diverse faculty and staff.
• Continue to involve a diverse array of parents on committees of the Board of Trustees in order to
increase participation in board-related activities and as a means to identify future board members.
• Strengthen board governance through regular self-evaluation and education, making use of resources
for trustees available from the National Association of Independent Schools.

Progress to Date
A new administrative structure, with two associate heads working closely with the faculty
and the head of school, was implemented in fall 2008 to provide additional support for
faculty and program.
Since 2006, funds for professional development have increased by nearly 50%, and in
2007 the school established summer travel grants for faculty.
A faculty-led Professional Development and Evaluation Committee, formed in fall 2007,
developed a multi-year system for faculty professional development and a cycle for
ongoing teacher evaluation.

It was amazing how close I was with


all my teachers and fellow classmates.
— ALUMNI SURVEY RESPONSE
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The Philadelphia School began in rented rooms in a synagogue on Broad Street. It moved to 2501 Lombard
Street as a renter in 1976 and bought “its own home” in 1989. The school is outgrowing that home, and
additional space is needed to respond to programmatic needs and innovations.

STRATEGIC GOAL 4
Provide facilities that will support the school’s programs, enhance a sense of “one
school,” and reflect the school’s commitment to environmental responsibility.
• Build “green” and renovate the current play yard and parking lot with the goals of environmental
sustainability, beautification, and connection to the neighborhood.
• Create a space for all-school performances and celebrations.
• Create a library media center to provide resources and services for students and faculty, as well
as to serve as a community gathering area.
• Ensure access to an outdoor site for environmental education.

Progress to Date
The Board of Trustees worked for several years to acquire 2501-15 South Street, a 25,564-
square-foot parcel of land across from the faculty parking lot. The school took possession
Shelly Ridge of the property on July 31, 2008. The site will be developed to support “one school”
across three city blocks.
provided us A master plan addressing all three properties was begun in late spring 2008, with publi-
cation scheduled for winter 2009.
city kids with During the 2007-2008 academic year, the Board of Trustees established an ad hoc
Country Classroom Committee, made up of faculty, parents, and trustees, to articulate
and affirm the importance of the country experience and to explore new sites for program
knowledge of development, including Fairmount Park.

the natural We recognize the need to increase diversity and create an environment inclusive of all. Diversity is essential to
world. excellence in education.

—ALUMNI SURVEY
RESPONSE
STRATEGIC GOAL 5
Grow and sustain a diverse, inclusive community that embraces differences in race,
ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, family structure, sexual orientation, and
learning styles.
• Broaden outreach efforts and create measurable benchmarks for documenting progress in recruit-
ing, welcoming, and retaining a diverse faculty, administration, and student body.
• Provide institutional clarity regarding the range of learning differences that can be well served at TPS.
• Continue to increase funding in support of financial aid.

Progress to Date
Three groups work in the area of diversity at TPS: the Diversity Committee of the Board
of Trustees; Family Diversity @ TPS, a parent-led group; and the Diversity and Equity
Committee, a faculty and staff group charged with designing initiatives of inclusion and
activism across the curriculum.
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We can take pride in our sound financial stewardship. As the school addresses its strategic goals, there is need for
a forward-looking financial plan which includes an approach to fund raising that engages all constituents in
ensuring a vibrant future for The Philadelphia School.

STRATEGIC GOAL 6
Strengthen and diversify financial resources to ensure the school’s mission, secure
long-term financial stability, and realize strategic goals.
• Strengthen the culture of philanthropy at The Philadelphia School.
• Engage sophisticated support for the management of the school’s financial resources to ensure that
the appropriate financial structure is achieved and maintained to meet the operating and long-term
goals of the school.
• Maintain affordable tuition rates.
• Seek creative, non-tuition revenue sources, such as expanded summer/vacation programming and
teacher-training institutes.

Progress to Date
New administrative software, installed in summer 2007, significantly improved the budg-
eting and reporting capabilities.
The school has developed financial models to address program needs.

In this time of ever-increasing and ever-changing modes of communication, The Philadelphia School faces
the challenge of delivering the right information to the right audience at the right time. The school must work to
convey who we are, what we do, and why we do it—not only to our own constituencies but also to our neighbors
and the broader community.

When I have STRATEGIC GOAL 7


Provide meaningful and effective communication to foster positive, lifelong relation-
ships with our constituencies.
children, • Conduct a communications audit to identify effective communication methods.

they WILL • Ensure community understanding of the school’s mission, strategic goals, and curriculum.
• Assess opportunities for parents to be welcomed into the daily life of the school.

go to TPS. Progress to Date


The school’s strong day-to-day communication has in recent years been enhanced
— ALUMNI SURVEY through email and the school website, with approximately 500 page views on days that
RESPONSE notices are uploaded.
Alumni relations, particularly with college-aged alumni and individuals who attended TPS
in its early years but did not graduate, have been strengthened through online social
networking, initiated in February 2008 and involving nearly 30% of TPS alumni.
In winter 2008 the Board of Trustees assembled a committee of neighbors, many repre-
senting civic organizations, to improve communication with the school and build strong
neighbor relations.
In October 2008 the advancement office initiated a comprehensive review of all school
events and written communications.
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The Philadelphia School


2501 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146
ph: 215.545.5323
www.tpschool.org
Amy Purcell Vorenberg, Head of School
r Printed with soy-based inks on recycled paper (100% Post Consumer Waste).