Johnny Spangler

While growing up, PSCS alum, Johnny Spangler, was never sure why he needed to take a math class. After all, that’s what calculators are for, right?

Then he got excited about taking scuba lessons.

“You can’t do math on a calculator when you’re under water,” he remembers thinking. “You need to be figuring out how many pressure zones you are under water, compared to how long you’ve been under water, so you should know how long you should take going up so you don’t get the bends.”

He adds, “This is very important stuff.”

It was an early lesson in the power of authentic learning. He says the most important things he learned at PSCS were not just the mathematics and the other academic subjects. For Johnny, it was about self-direction and figuring out what he loved to do, learning to be comfortable in the unknown, knowing how to find information once he got curious about something, and interacting with adults as peers.

“That’s what PSCS does,” he says. “It gives you these skills that you don’t even realize you have, that just make life easier.

After leaving PSCS, he spent two years in AmeriCorps and two years studying improvisational comedy before enrolling at Bellevue College. He earned an undergraduate degree psychology and then pursued a master’s degree in education psychology at Seattle University. Now Johnny works with kids at Ryther Child Center.

“There were a lot of people around me that the moment something got hard, they shut down,” Johnny remembers. “It was obvious that it had been ground into them through years and years and years of school that the moment something got hard, they had a lot of history of not being able to do it, so they assumed they weren’t going to be able to do it this time. I didn’t have that.”

He’s been a PSCS volunteer for years, offering courses like Mad Science, Improv, Finding Yourself, and Swing Dancing.

He says, “PSCS taught me a love for teaching.”