Founding

Founded in 1994, Puget Sound Community School (PSCS) is a Washington State–approved private school and a federally recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The first organizational meeting of what was to become the PSCS took place in the home of Andy Smallman and Melinda Shaw in December, 1993. The first day of school took place in September of 1994.

Location

660 S. Dearborn Street, in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District.

School Hours

The PSCS school day runs from 9am-3:40pm, Monday-Friday, unless otherwise specified.

Students are asked to arrive at school with enough time to sign in to our online Attendance System (created by past students and staff) in order to be seated at Morning Check-in by 9am.

At 3:30, we end the day with All School Check-out for 10 minutes.

Leadership

In May of 2021, in an effort to build upon the collaborative and equitable vision of the school, PSCS parents, staff, and the Board of Trustees agreed to invest in a more intentionally-hierarchical administrative team and collaborative leadership, rather than in a traditional Executive Director or Head of School. This means the daily operations of the school are run by our PSCS Admin Team, comprised of our three directors, each of whom functions in close cooperation with the PSCS Teaching Staff.

In 2022, the staff agreed to a flattened payscale (currently at 10- and 12-month contracts).

Student/Teaching Staff Ratio

6:1

Grades

Our students are between the ages of 11 and 18 (grades 6–12 in more traditional schools). We enroll students entering grades 6-8, and grades 9 and 10.

Enrollment 2023-24

34 students from Seattle and the greater metropolitan area. PSCS staff and families come from all over; Renton, Burien, Rainier Beach, Columbia City, Kirkland, Bellevue, Mercer Island, Phinney Ridge, Ballard, Mountlake Terrace,  Bainbridge Island, Mukilteo, and more.

Accreditation/Membership

Subscriber School, Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS)
Member, National Association of Independent Schools
Member, Washington Federation of Independent Schools (WFIS)

Staff

PSCS has 4 Teaching Staff members, 2 Adjunct Teaching Staff member, a part-time School Counselor, and 3 Administrative Directors.

Volunteers

Typically we have a pool of volunteer facilitators, and our course schedule for a given term may include class offerings from 1-5 volunteer facilitators (these could be, or have been, current parents, past parents, alum, educators from other institutions, and college student). Current PSCS students often pitch and offer classes as well.

Graduation Credentials

PSCS is a state-approved private school and offers graduates an official Washington state high school diploma.

WA State Graduation Requirements

PSCS Graduation Requirements

Tuition Access Program

PSCS currently offers Tuition Access to 28% of PSCS families. PSCS is committed to allocating a significant amount of funding to ensure we represent a community of varied experiences, backgrounds, and identities.

The school uses an impartial outside entity to evaluate and determine objective financial need.

It is also our intention that enrolled students are able to fully participate in all activities for which they qualify, and that the cost of these activities is not a barrier to participating. We do not wish to nickel and dime families after they've been enrolled. In support of this, PSCS has a program aid fund available for families who need help with such expenses.

Grades/Testing

Students are not given letter grades at PSCS and are not required to take any standardized, performance-based, assessment tests either to be admitted to PSCS or during their time here.

Requirements

The requirements we place on our students provide the structure for them to be immersed in our positive and supportive environment, which is the root of our philosophy. Students are expected to spend 1,000+ hours present and on-campus (Community Hours), to attend classes, group programming, seminars, as well as off-campus events.

Progress

PSCS parents/guardians participate in two conferences per school year with their student and their student’s Advisor. Parents are welcome to request additional meetings, and Advisors and/or the Director of Program may recommend or require them. Student progress is also detailed in two-week Check-ins, staff reports and reflections, as well as student self-reflections each year.

Transcripts

Each term, all reports, reflections, and milestones are compiled by Advisors and the school Registrar into a narrative transcript, which reflect state graduation requirements as well as PSCS-specific community requirements, most of which fall under the headings of our Core Commitments (above). Approved Independent Study projects are also transcripted, as are courses students complete on their own with outside resources, as long as they can be appropriately documented.

Anti-Bias

PSCS has an open admissions policy that reflects our aim to respect individual differences and learn from diversity. We admit students, and welcome staff and volunteers, of any race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, age, physical and cognitive ability, ancestry, medical condition, family care status, belief system, and family dynamic.

High School

9-12th grade is focused on self-awareness, self-direction, and goal-setting. PSCS High School students are challenged by their Advisors to participate in offerings because they find excitement and/or purpose in them. Advisors help students continue to identify short- and long-term goals and to map out strategies to achieve them, including understanding and prioritizing required Seminars and WA State Graduation Requirements. Advising also engages a process of authentic self-reflection that supports students in moving toward their next goals, whether that be further education, the workforce, the Peace Corps, or any number of life pursuits.

Recent Class Offerings

Scientific Inquiry, Self Care, African American & Latinx History, American Lit. Octavia’s Brood, Sex & Health, Drumming, Cultural Films, Intro to Philosophy, Business & Finance, Writing Personal Narratives, Geometry, College Explorations, Natural Latin, World Geography, WA State History, Indigenous Poetry, Soccer, Cephalopod Biology, Algebra, Summarize THIS!, Blog Writing, History of Pop Music, Queer History, Current Events, Student Leadership, Landscape Sketching, Drawing & Sculpture, Theater, Building Gliders.

Matriculation

PSCS seniors often see the benefits of further and deeper learning and mindfully pursue higher education. PSCS alumni were accepted to, attend, or have attended the following colleges and universities for undergrad and graduate studies:

Boston Conservatory of Music at Berklee, Bellevue College, Bunka Fashion College-Tokyo, The School of Oregon Ballet Theater, Cal Arts, Cornish College of the Arts(+), DigiPen(+), LA School of Music, Make Up Forever Academy-NY, Marymount Manhattan College, Naropa University, Ohio-Wesleyan University, Oregon Culinary Institute, Pacific Lutheran University, Parsons School of Design, Quest University(+), Reed College, Sarah Lawrence, Saybrook University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Seattle Central College(+), Seattle Pacific University(+), Seattle University, St John’s College, The Evergreen State College(+), The New School(+), University of Arizona, University of Illinois, University of Sarajevo Film School, University of Washington(+), UW-Bothell, UW- Engineering Program, Webster University, Western Washington University(+), WWU-Fairhaven(+), Whitman College(+), Whittier College, and more.

Featured Profile

Jostin Darlington ’06

For PSCS alum Jostin Darlington, it all started with a bit of adolescent fun at McDonald’s.

“We had a group of friends sitting at a booth, video taping me as I ordered a large meal,” he remembers. “The plan was that after receiving my food I would trip myself and spill it in front of the rather busy restaurant. It went according to plan, and everyone laughed a lot.”

Jostin was a high schooler at PSCS at the time. After editing his skits into a montage of funny scenes, he wanted to share it with his friends via the Internet. He asked a PSCS staff member to teach a web design class.

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