At PSCS, our first focus is not limited to an academic program; our focus is on creating the kind of environment in which humans naturally thrive.
PSCS was founded upon the belief that people are intrinsically compelled by their own curiosities and desire to learn, and when provided a positive and supportive environment—along with a wide variety of opportunities offered by interesting and engaging people—they will enthusiastically pursue meaningful and challenging tasks. Whereas mainstream educational models often promote one-size-fits-all memorization and conformity, the approach used at PSCS fosters creativity, flexibility, and a genuine diversity that stems from the uniqueness of all human beings. In this environment, meaningful learning occurs naturally and inevitably, though the pace, form, and content of learning will vary from person to person. This philosophy is based on the most robust findings in behavioral science of the past 40 years.
Flexibility and Collaboration.
At PSCS, students and staff collaborate to create the school's schedule, which has the flexibility to change regularly. This cooperative process provides an arena in which students learn to advocate for activities they want, to structure their schedules around their interests, goals, and priorities, and to be sensitive to the scheduling needs of others. Students are assigned an Advisor, a member of the teaching staff with whom they meet regularly. Advisors challenge students to identify short- and long-term goals and help them learn how to align what they do at school with these goals.
Students who fully embrace the program offered at PSCS show consistent progress in self-expression, leadership, and skill-building in almost any endeavor, and recognize they are part of something bigger than themselves. This progress is contextualized within the school’s Core Commitments: Practice Integrity. Engage the Community. Act with Courage.
PSCS envisions a community of global ambassadors for a philosophy that values kindness, wholeness and social justice.
In recent years, PSCS has elevated social justice work with board, staff, and students, to a higher level. This means, that while we don't have required courses, we are making every effort to weave the recognition of equity-disparity and discrimination into the fabric of our school. Our staff are encouraged to offer classes on the history of marginalized peoples‚ to lead discussions on gender, orientation, and racial bias, and, as such, we try to make much of our professional development centered around this work. We set aside time in the school year to bring in outside resources to lead workshops and activities related to this work, including non-violent communication, class, and consent.
While we strive to reach the goal written above, it is not meant to imply that we have it all figured out. The curriculum of PSCS is inherently flexible and we do our best to foster this process in a way that works within our philosophy. PSCS is for students and families who are interested in working together to see this goal through.
PSCS is a Washington State approved middle and high school.
PSCS does not have academic requirements, nor do we require students to take standardized tests or earn credits to graduate. There are no letter grades. We believe that students should follow their interests and hone a diverse range of skills—an approach that allows them to intrinsically participate in academic, creative, and collaborative veracity. Advisors engage students in a process of authentic self-reflection that is challenging and supportive of their growth. The school documents this process with individualized transcripts that focus on the activities each student completes while attending PSCS. In addition, Advisors provide an annual narrative report of each advisee, and high school students write three self-reflection essays per year, all of which is included on their official school transcripts.
With this approach, PSCS is approved by the state of Washington to award a high school diploma to students who meet the school's graduation requirements, the same diploma awarded by public schools and other approved private schools.
PSCS is grounded in community.
The requirements we place on our students are based on providing the structure necessary for them to be immersed in the positive and supportive environment at the root of our philosophy. Students are required to earn 1000 Community Hours (see Key Words) each year, and to attend mandatory whole group and small group activities (see Key Words: Advising, Advisory, Check-in/Check-out, and Seminar). We require students to attend PSCS for at least three years to be eligible for graduation.
PSCS Founder and Director, Andy Smallman, was an honor student in high school in the 1980s, but found the experience to be mostly a waste of time. Lots of requirements, worksheets, and boredom. He couldn’t wait to get out. He took a job at a bookstore, and by his senior year was the night and weekend manager. He worked from 1:30 until 9:30 p.m.—a full 40 hours a week—closing out the till, balancing the books, locking up, and making the...Read More >