Valerie Diaz Leroy—Director of Program

e wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi

 “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”
-Sankofa

Valerie Diaz Leroy (she/her) is entering her 2nd year at PSCS and holds over 20 years experience in education. She spent 14 years teaching in independent schools, including 13 years at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, FL. She is certified in Conflict Transformation through Imani Works, a non-governmental organization of the United Nations and has been trained/holds certification in Creative Facilitation, Youth Mental Health First Aid, restorative practices, neuro-divergent teaching/administrative strategies, racial and gender equity and identity facilitation, and organizational leadership.

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Hannah Blacksin–Teaching Staff

Hannah (she/they) is in her 4th year as part of the collaborative staff at PSCS. She is a certified secondary ELA teacher and holds an M.Sc. in Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education. She seeks to decolonize English and science education through responsive curriculum, centering student choice and experiential learning. She believes in the deep power of being in just relationship – with ourselves, each other, and the planet – and seeks to facilitate spaces that empower these relationships to emerge.

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Sam Williams–Teaching Staff

Samuel Marcus Williams (he/him) is entering his 6th year as a member of the PSCS Teaching Staff and collaborative leadership team. Prior to that, he spent several years at the Westside School, Stevens School, and was a Literacy Teacher at TOPS K-8. However, Sam’s teaching/facilitation experience goes back to the mid-90s, where he got his start as a preschool teacher and an elementary school assistant, after receiving his degree in Youth Studies from Southern University. Sam has training/certification in Youth Mental Health First Aid, neuro-divergent teaching strategies, racial and gender equity facilitation, caucusing, and more. Sam is one of 3 Sam’s at our school and thus he has taken on the nickname Teacher Sam, or TSam for short.

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Amy Stern—teaching staff

Amy Stern (she/her) spent 18+ years in the world of public education where she worked with a diverse range of learners. At PSCS, Amy is energized and motivated by the idea of helping to make education what it can be, and not what it has traditionally been. She sees the opportunity to provide learning experiences that center students’ needs, knowledge, and uniqueness, while simultaneously helping them grow to be agents of positive social change.

As a white, queer, Jewish (culturally, not religiously) woman, Amy has done work to recognize the many areas where she has privilege. These experiences have led her to prioritize lifting the voices of those who are marginalized and listening more than talking. Amy is also not afraid to speak up when she sees injustices around her. She feels fortunate to get to work in a space with people who share similar values.

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Brandon Bermudez–Teaching Staff

PSCS Teaching Staff—For the past 20 years, Brandon has been working as a musician, producer, audio engineer, and teacher in the Puget Sound area. He regularly performs and frequently collaborates with many professional musicians and artists around the world. Most recently, he’s been performing live with The Black Tones, Dearheart, and Erin Rae and the Heartbeets, while also producing lofi pop and hip hop tracks for national artists at his studio.

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Scobie Puchtler —Teaching Staff

Scobie Puchtler (he/him) began volunteering at PSCS 18 years ago, and joined the teaching staff two years later in 2007. He’d always considered becoming a teacher, but doubted he’d ever find a school sufficiently kind and student-centered, or one that gave teachers enough flexibility to genuinely teach to their strengths and passions. He was elated to have PSCS prove him wrong.

Scobie started life in Laos during the Vietnam war, where his parents served as aid workers. When he was 4, his family moved to central Alaska for the remainder of his childhood. There, his father worked with Alaskan native populations on water systems and health care, and Scobie helped his family build their own log home in the boreal forest north of Fairbanks.

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Cherrise Smith—School Counselor

Cherrise (she/her) is just starting her first year at PSCS and could not be more excited to join this community. She brings with her training in program management, suicide prevention, trauma informed care, motivational interviewing, and substance use disorder prevention. What drew her to PSCS was the collaboration, small community, warm energy, and the genuine care she felt not just for students but for staff as well.

Cherrise has always known she would serve youth. She has been an after school program manager, cheer coach, student intervention specialist, special education teacher, case manager, and has spent the last 4 years as a counselor. She works hard to build relationships and trust with students, families, and staff members—and wants to learn individual stories, hear their challenges, and celebrate their wins.

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Akin Alston—Teaching Staff

Akin is a first year teacher at PSCS, but has been connected to this community since 2014. He has an innovative, charismatic and unconventional approach to mathematics teaching and learning. For over 30 years, he has developed new community-based initiatives and services to support higher mathematics ans STEM achievement—particularly in communities of color.

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Sieglinde Levery-Nicholas–Director of Community Engagement & Admissions

Sieglinde Levery-Nicholas (she/her) is entering her 12th year as a director at PSCS. She holds 19+ years experience in non-profit and education administration, development, admissions, and facilitation—including 7 years at the Waring School in Massachusetts. She is certified in youth mental health first aid, and experienced in/trained in restorative practices, Non-Violent Communication (NVC), neuro-divergent teaching/administrative strategies, racial and gender equity facilitation, Creative Facilitation, organizational leadership, peacemaking circles, caucusing, and Somatic practices.

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Liana Green–Administrative Consultant

Liana Green (she/they) came to PSCS 14 years ago, ultimately creating and broadening our Music Program as it stands today. During her tenure as a full time Teaching Staff member, she forged opportunities for everyone, from new performers, to mid-range musicians, to more experienced performers. She offered classes like Music Theory, Diverse Voices, Choir, and Dead White Guys, all running in tandem with many, many bands. She leaves behind an incredible program, one that has seen many alum follow their musical passions into becoming working musicians—and even to places like Cal Arts, The New School, and Berklee School of Music.

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