Debate Magazine

The Big Idea

By Stevemiranda

Here’s the story of the moment that changed my life.

It was the fall of 2009, and I had recently started working at PSCS after 10 years teaching in the public high schools. The phone rang, and a woman asked me, “Are you an alternative school?”

I was flummoxed. I know what she meant by the term “alternative school,” and by her definition, yes, we are an alternative school. But we don’t view ourselves that way. At PSCS, we see ourselves as a mainstream school for the 21st century.

I fumbled and stumbled my way through the conversation before finally hanging up. I walked into the office of PSCS founder Andy Smallman and asked him, “Are we an alternative school?”

“No,” he said.

“I know that, but what do you say when people ask that question?”

“Alternative schools use alternative strategies for helping kids understand geography and science and math and literature,” he said. “That’s not our product.”

“What’s our product?”

“Our product is this environment,” he said. “We provide a safe, loving, nurturing environment in which kids feel connected to a caring community, then we surround them with people of high character who are excited about life and excited about learning. Then we partner with them to help them figure out what they love to do, what brings them joy.”

I stood in his doorway for what seemed like an eternity, staring blankly. School is not, first and foremost, about the transfer of academic content from teacher to student. School should be about surrounding kids with role models who help them identify and pursue their signature strengths. School is about the journey from childhood to adulthood.

I am convinced that this is the transcendent idea in our conversation about transforming our schools. This is the idea that’s going to change everything.


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • “This Diet Has Been Nothing Short of Life Changing for Me and My Family”

    Tyler has been able to truly turn his life around with a low-carb diet. Here's how he massively increased his energy levels and lost 100 lbs (45 kg) in only... Read more

    5 hours, 40 minutes ago by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • New Keto Meal Plan

    Our popular low-carb meal-plan tool gives you everything you need to succeed on low carb. Meal plans, recipes and shopping lists - no planning required! Adjust... Read more

    5 hours, 49 minutes ago by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • Vegan Rocket Pesto Pasta!

    Vegan Rocket Pesto Pasta!

    I harvested a lot of wild rocket in our garden hey, what to do with it? I knew that I made a previous non-vegan rocket pesto that was so delicious. Read more

    6 hours, 7 minutes ago by   Sophies Foodie
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES, VEGETARIAN & VEGAN
  • Party Saturday

    According to the calendar, summer started this past week. According to Tajikistan, summer started last month. And so by now, a month into summer, it is hot. Read more

    6 hours, 14 minutes ago by   Sherwoods
    FAMILY, PARENTING
  • Sunday Bliss Is..

    Sunday Bliss Is..

    ..baking these adorable red berry and almond blondies in this understated sunlit kitchen. Join the Read more

    6 hours, 45 minutes ago by   Myparadissi
    HOME, INTERIOR DESIGN
  • 5 Reasons NOT To Start With A Non-Profit Business

    Reasons Start With Non-Profit Business

    A common misconception I often hear in the startup world is that non-profits are easy and safe, since they don’t have to pay taxes, and they don’t have to make ... Read more

    7 hours, 24 minutes ago by   Martin Zwilling
    BUSINESS, CAREER
  • A Day at the Marvellous West Woodhay Gardeners' Fair

    Marvellous West Woodhay Gardeners' Fair

    I received an invitation the other day to go to the West Woodhay Gardeners' Fair; a quick check on the map and I thought it would make a nice day trip. I happil... Read more

    8 hours, 11 minutes ago by   Ozhene
    GARDENING, HOME