Our fundamental approach begins with the ongoing maintenance of a safe, nurturing, and respectful environment.

PSCS students often pass through a series of stages, starting with a feeling of euphoria when they first enroll. Students are excited by the promise of spending their days pursuing activities that give them joy, and the thrill of being surrounded by an extraordinary group of teachers. We often say that PSCS is the easiest school you’ll ever attend because no one is telling you what to do. It’s also the hardest school, because no one is telling you what to do.

The job of the teaching staff is to not solve a student’s boredom problem.

This can be frustrating for students, but inevitably they emerge on the other side with a powerful sense of autonomy and ability to direct their own lives.

Students then often engage passionately in the endless academic and social opportunities available, and even begin leading new activities that they create. Over time, however, some students grow indignant over the fact that others are not taking full advantage of the school. The job of the teaching staff at this point is to coach students on how to transform their indignation into leadership. Staff will challenge students to become mentors for others who are in the process of learning how to fully engage.

The curriculum at PSCS is responsibility, and the goal for our graduates is maturity.

This takes place in a safe, loving, nurturing environment in which high-level academics are being offered by a teaching staff with degrees from the most prestigious universities in the world.

Featured Profile

Elizabeth Ortega—Teaching Staff

“Life is a trip, and sometimes it gets weird.”

Elizabeth Ortega (she/they) holds 12+ years experience in education and food/environmental justice, including 5 years at PSCS as facilitator, Advisor, and collaborative staff member. She is a holistic sex educator and offers courses in Sociology, Gender Studies, and wellness. They have a B.A. Sociology & Anthropology from the University of Arizona and hold an M.Ed. in Transformative Learning Processes and currently teaches graduate students at Antioch. They are also certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid and are experienced in/trained in Restorative Practices, Non-Violent Communication (NVC), neuro-divergent teaching strategies, racial and gender equity facilitation, peacemaking circles, caucusing, and Somatic practices. 

Elizabeth is a queer mixed-Latine who has been been groovin’ in the PSCS community for 5 years, learning the ways of a Holistic Sexuality Educator, and skipping into the sunshine as much as possible. She previously organized and worked with young folks in a variety of spaces and capacities, from food and health justice in South Seattle to starting a GSA at McClure Middle School.

Originally from the hot borderlands of the Southwest desert, she comes from chasing after ice cream trucks, the dusty grounds of 4-H animals, and many a sports team. One could say, EO really likes getting her boots dirty. For the last 11 years she’s roamed the PNW making art, building community, and avoiding swimming in any cold bodies of water.

Elizabeth brings to PSCS a passion for social justice and equity and how these issues are embedded in everything we do—systematically, institutionally, interpersonally, and internally. She wants to imagine and build new possibilities for a more just and joy-infused future for more communities, both tiny and grand. A deeply curious person, Elizabeth is always thinking about how we can be our most whole and healthy selves—and how to have the most possible fun while doing it. The creative facilitator in them gets jazzed about stretching our growing edges and finding celebration in even the most mundane of life’s experiences

Nature, exploring, and being with chosen family, are just some of the places Elizabeth feels the most at home. She revels in the feeling of freedom and being humbled by this awe-inspiring universe of which we are all a part. Writing, reading, linocut printmaking, eating delicious things, and throwing a darn good party are just a few of the things that delight them.

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