Listen up, my fellow alum. This isn’t hyperbole:
If it weren’t for Puget Sound Community School, I wouldn’t be here today. I’d be somewhere, sure, but I wouldn’t be here, in my office, all happy with the direction of my life and proud of the man I’ve become. Before PSCS, school just didn’t make sense to me. I spent my freshman year feeling like I was just a seat-filler; randomly assigned classes that meant nothing to me and were mostly wasted, hour-long sessions holding a pen.
I remember when I completely checked out of school. It was during World Civ I, which was taught by the basketball coach. His teaching “style” was as follows: Enter the classroom and retrieve a Xeroxed sheet containing a series of questions. Take your assigned seat, open your textbook. Read the chapter, answer questions. When you were done, return your sheet to the teacher and sit quietly until the end of the period. It was here that I realized “I could learn more by myself, why bother with school?”
Thanks to a friend and fellow alum, Joe Turk, I quickly discovered PSCS. During my first visit to the school, I met Andy and remember thinking to myself, “This guy is a teacher?” He was so warm and genuine and welcoming! He invited me to sit in on classes and I was absolutely enthralled from day one. Years later Andy told me that he had thought I didn’t care about the school because I had no questions about the program. He thought I saw my visit as just a blow-off day. What he didn’t see is that I didn’t have any questions because I felt so completely at home. I was immediately safe, supported, and excited.
PSCS staff helped me understand that I could be passionate about almost anything and they would support my interests throughout my entire school career—and beyond. Within a year of being accepted, I was facilitating my own class. Within two years, I was facilitating multiple classes. Since college, I have gone back to facilitate classes every chance I get. I love teaching and I love seeing sparks of interest in the eyes of students and feeling that same sensation within me.
PSCS has been changing lives for over twenty years and, as I said before, it changed my life. I really believe that it transforms more and more people’s lives each year—not just students, but staff, parents, volunteers—and I, for one, want this incredible force of compassion, integrity, and empathy to remain completely sustainable for years to come.
The way to make this happen is by giving to the PSCS 2014-15 fundraising campaign Kindness Matters. I give my time, but I also give my money. Alum donations don’t have to be grand gestures by any means. Five bucks can go a long way. Ten bucks even farther. This is the time of year where being thankful for the blessings in our life means giving back, so please consider giving a gift to PSCS now.