The value of community and the importance of a healthy school environment are so significant at PSCS that certain activities are automatically scheduled, some of which have required attendance. Most activities, however, are determined through a highly structured collaborative system involving the students and staff that takes place throughout the year. 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. To assist with this process, students are assigned an Advisor, a member of the teaching staff with whom they meet regularly. Although many of the activities offered through this process are cross-grade, PSCS is divided into two distinct but overlapping programs: middle school and high school. Students who fully embrace the programs 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.
Middle School Program
PSCS nurtures in our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders a deeper understanding of themselves and their responsibilities to community—and helps them develop the skills needed to derive the most benefit from the school. Advisors act as coaches and guides in this process, assisting students in identifying and pursuing their interests while involved in a community setting. As part of the program, middle school students have some additional structure and are required to participate in middle school-specific programs and activities, including seminars and advising. During their 8th grade year, students complete and present an individual project based on their personal interests. This process creates a natural bridge to attending high school at PSCS and acts as a precursor to the Senior Project.
High School Program
High school students at PSCS focus on the concepts of self-awareness, self-direction, and goal setting—all in the context of participating and contributing to a healthy school community. Advisors help students identify their short- and long-term goals, and to map out strategies to achieving them. In terms of school offerings, advisors challenge students to participate in activities not based on what they think they "should" be doing, but because students are excited by these activities and find meaning in them. Advisors also engage students in a process of rigorous self-reflection, which is authentic and supportive of student growth. During their 10th grade year, students complete and present a collaborative project, usually related to creating value for another community.
Graduating From PSCS
PSCS graduates demonstrate high levels of self-expression, intrinsic motivation, and commitment to the community. A student’s senior year at PSCS is the crowning development and expression of these characteristics and is uniquely structured to showcase them. To graduate from PSCS, a student must first be approved by the staff. To be considered, students will need to be at least 16 years old and have been enrolled at PSCS for at least three full school years at the time of their graduation (PSCS Graduation Requirements).
Dana Bettinger earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Pratt Institute and then a master’s degree from Yale University, but after seven years as an architect—including time spent running her own design firm—she returned to graduate school and became a teacher.
Dana now teaches art, architecture, and stagecraft at University Prep, and previously served as the president of the PSCS Board of Trustees. She currently sits on the Development & Marketing Committee and the Leadership & Organization Committee.
She was initially attracted by the school’s progressive philosophy…Read More >