PSCS Director Steps Down after 24 Years

In March of 2018, co-founder, Andy Smallman, announced his retirement as Executive Director of Puget Sound Community School. Following his decision, the PSCS Board of Trustees decided to search for an interim to start in July of 2018. Their work led to offering Amy Hollinger, previously the Assistant Head at Westside School, a 2-year contract as interim Executive Director of PSCS (more on Amy in a future post).

Andy and his wife, PSCS co-founder, Melinda Shaw, decided to move to the Bay area. You can learn more about Andy’s work with kindness at here. He posts kindness activities regularly at Kind Living and you can visit his personal here.

(see Founder’s Page)

Dear PSCS Community,

I’m writing to announce my retirement from PSCS at the end of the current school year.

Twenty five years ago Melinda and I started PSCS to allow me to work with students in ways I realized I never could in the other schools I knew. As PSCS grew, the work that fed me – frank, transparent work with students – necessarily took a secondary role to administrative tasks and considerations. I’ve come to recognize it’s time for me to walk a different path and for PSCS to take its next steps infused with new leadership. Progressive education and student-centered learning are enjoying a much broader acceptance right now and I feel proud to have helped shape their foundation at PSCS, along with so many others of you.

Undoubtedly, this decision will seem abrupt to many of you. I’m not sure at this point how it could be any other way. As co-founder and initial visionary of PSCS, my departure would likely seem abrupt whether it had happened five years ago, this year, or five years from now.

PSCS is in a solid place for this transition, with administrators who are prepared to take on this next phase and a wholly competent Board of Trustees — led by Eve Keller, a deeply compassionate human being who is committed to seeing PSCS through this progression from founder-led school to its next expression. I fully trust her and the rest of the board’s ability to guide the unfolding process with an understanding of the school’s roots as well as the needs of a quarter-century-old non-profit in the 21st century. PSCS also holds, at its core, an incredibly dedicated staff who bring decades of collective wisdom to the task at hand.

The challenge to envision “a community of global ambassadors for a philosophy that values kindness, wholeness, and social justice” is not mine, but all of ours. It’s been my privilege to lead the staff and sit beside the board as they strive to embody that vision. Undoubtedly, these fine people will continue to reflect and inspire those values in the work ahead.

I look forward to connecting with you over the next several months to share memories, and to say our informal and formal goodbyes. I want to thank everyone, but particularly our current families, in advance, for your commitment to helping the school through this transition. This will be a big change for the community, but the chance to evolve is also exciting and timely. It will be my pleasure to watch (and help) PSCS grow into a fuller articulation of our shared values.

Written with warmth and deep appreciation,

Andy Smallman
PSCS Director 1994-2018