Debate Magazine

PSCS’s Reach Extends Beyond the Students Who Attend Day-to-day

By Stevemiranda

For the rest of April, this space will be used to support a fundraiser for PSCS. The stories here will be posted in the same spirit of generating conversation about changing the way we think about school, but will be explicitly in service to raising money for the school. If this is no problem for you, great! If you’d rather just check back here after 10 days, that’s great too.

* * *

PSCS asks everyone in the school community to dedicate themselves to what we call our “core commitments”: Practice Integrity. Act With Courage. Engage the Community. When prospective families ask me what the requirements are for getting into PSCS, I point to the wall where these words are written and I say, “Show us that you are dedicated to that.”

There was almost a fourth core commitment. We called it “Do Good Work.”

I loved that phrase because it’s so rich in meaning. In everything we do—in our teaching, learning, interpersonal communication, all of it—we want it to be of high quality. We expect it from others, and we expect it of ourselves. We strive to do good work.

But we also expect it to be “good” in the sense that it’s meaningful, that it’s positive, that it brings joy to others.

* * *

Here’s an example of how doing good work has inspired another member of the PSCS community to carry the school’s values out into the world. Bill Fenner is a PSCS parent whose daughter Lauren commutes more than 45 minutes each way to come to PSCS every day. Here’s Bill’s story:

As a first-time PSCS parent, I came in with an open mind about how my daughter’s school year would unfold, what course work she would be doing, and how she would take to the PSCS experience. But I also came in with a dose of “wait-and-see.”

What a surprise to know that our daughter has enjoyed, among other subjects, Shakespearean acting, mushroom ball, and rock-wall climbing! “Wait-and-see” no more!

PSCS is a place where learning styles are honored. PSCS teachers understand that learning comes to different people at different times and in different ways. And PSCS provides learning for parents as well.  Here’s some background:

Each day at PSCS starts with a check-in time where students, teachers, volunteers, and anyone else present can share news of the day.  Likewise each school day ends with check out time. 

I’ve had only one opportunity to participate in a checkout meeting during the year, and what made the biggest impression on me was the Appreciation Circle (my capital letters).

Anyone present has the opportunity to share their appreciations with the rest of the group.  Appreciations bring the community together in ways that other practices don’t, or can’t, because they are from the heart and are personal.

So, along with the learnings that have occurred for our daughter, I’ve taken away some learning as well that I’ve been able to apply at work. My monthly staff meetings now include an Appreciation Circle. It’s a new habit, certainly, for my staff, but they are starting to get it. I’ve noticed an increase in teamwork and cooperation, as well as more mutual respect for each other each day.

PSCS’s reach extends well beyond just the students who attend day-to-day.

* * *

See what happens when you do good work? PSCS founder Andy Smallman read the research on the power of gratitude in the path towards self-actualization, then applied it to a school environment. By sustaining a learning community grounded in the most robust findings in behavioral sciences of the past 40 years, PSCS has not only provided world-class education to its students but has also succeeded in spreading joy. The good work being done by teachers and students creates a ripple effect that goes out into the world.

The truly beautiful part is that we have no idea—and we get to imagine—just how far it reaches.

* * *

Please consider giving a gift to PSCS in support of this campaign! Consider this: for $130.55, you can sponsor one student’s participation in Tanya’s Microscope Science class for an entire term. A donation of $391.65 supports one student taking Nic’s Constitutional Law class for the entire year!

Meanwhile, a gift of $13.55 helps one student get a high-intensity weight-training workout with Scobie, and $813.10 will sponsor all the remaining rehearsals for the jazz band before they perform at the Student Showcase.

In short, there are many great causes to support! To donate now, click here or email with your pledge. Eight more days to go, and we still have a long road ahead of us. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

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