Charity Magazine

The Workplace of the Future

Posted on the 22 April 2011 by Stevemiranda

For the next 10 days, 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.

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Hello PSCS friends! Last year, we launched a new fundraiser called “10 Stories in 10 Days,” in which I send you an inspiring story about PSCS each day, and then invite you to make a donation to the school. It was wildly successful. PSCS alumni parents Susan and Larry Morris, along with their son Greg (one of PSCS’s earliest students, who now works at Google in New York), made an extraordinarily generous offer: if we could raise $10,000 in 10 days, the Morris family would match it with an additional $5,000.

I nearly had a heart attack from the pressure, but we did it! Now, the Morris family has stepped up again, only this time I know a little secret. If we reach our goal, Google will match Greg’s half of the matching challenge, which means this has the potential to be a $17,500 campaign. Exciting!

If you know already that PSCS is awesome and you want to give a gift, feel free to click here or email your pledge to [email protected] If you need a little inspiration, keep reading.

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I knew this day was coming, so I prepared a little video for you to kick things off. This is actually the realization of a dream I once had while growing up in suburban New Jersey of being a hip hop music producer. It’s a 30-second video created in collaboration with PSCS volunteer Tim Willis, who did the video editing, and teaching staff member Liana Green, who created the music track. I hope you like it!

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A couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be included in an email thread between PSCS founder Andy Smallman and PSCS alum Vanessa Riley, who now works in the non-profit medical field in Alexandria, Va.

The company where Vanessa works has more than 200 employees, and is transitioning to a concept called Results Only Work Environment (ROWE). It’s a popular trend among leading edge businesses, and it’s something that PSCS has been doing for 17 years.

(Note: For those who haven’t spent a lot of time with Andy, he has a playful sense of humor that tends to bring out an irreverent spirit in others. You’ll get a sense of that here.)

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On Apr 5, 2011, at 5:15 PM, Vanessa Riley wrote:

Andy Smallman!

Do you know about Results Only Workplaces?  It seems like something that might already be on your radar, but in case not you might want to look at their website: It’s purported to be the future of the workplace.

My office is converting to a 100% ROWE environment; no office hours, no required number of hours a week, as long as the work gets done it doesn’t matter where, when, or how you do it.  People are very nervous about the transition, afraid of the change, afraid of being judged by their supervisors or co-workers if they decide to spend a whole Wednesday afternoon at the beach instead of working—but not me! The more I learn about it the more I realize I’ve done it before, at PSCS. It’s great because I get to play the role of star philosophical student in the trainings. ; )

Just thought you should know.


PS: I told the ROWE ladies about PSCS. If their model is the future of the office in the 21st century, it seems like they might want to know about the school model that’s best preparing students to work in it.

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On Tue, Apr 5, 2011 at 11:26 AM, Andy Smallman wrote:

This is SO cool! Congratulations for working in a place that will pay you to watch Desperate Housewives.

Seriously, I am familiar with this and I am pleased that your company has the foresight to act on it. That you connect this to PSCS makes this all the more pleasing to me!


PS – Will you get on the ball and say something nice about Melinda’s and my Kind Living blog, please! (

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On Tue, Apr 5, 2011 at 11:50 AM, Vanessa Riley wrote:

Right?  There’s nothing more important to me than keeping up with the ladies on Desperate Housewives and I’m really excited to be in a workplace that will allow me the flexibility to honor that passion from now on.

A big part of it is what they call “sludge eradication,” which basically means removing judgment against ourselves or others for not complying with traditional workplace expectations. It’s not easy! The first day I tried being “results only” I determined that I could do everything I needed to that day from home, but I didn’t make it through the whole day without deciding to go in. I felt like I “should” be at the office, even though there was no reason for it. I’m getting better the more I practice it, but it’s a learning process.  I think it’s very similar to wha

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On Tue, Apr 5, 2011 at 11:57 AM, Andy Smallman wrote:

So are you going to finish your thought? Or is this already some detrimental side effect to ROWE?  –A

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On Apr 5, 2011, at 5:51 PM, Vanessa Riley wrote:

Sorry, I don’t know what I hit to send this… it wasn’t ready!  Email fail. : (

. . .  I think it’s very similar to what parents go through when their kids decide to spend a month playing video games or taking only pool classes. Instead of focusing on what the kids are learning from playing pool they focus on what they should be taking. Totally understandable, because if something’s new we don’t know what the outcome will be, right? We know what the outcome will be if a kid goes through public school and takes the state recommended classes for their age group. Often the outcome isn’t so good, but at least it’s known. All of the objections to ROWE I’ve heard here have been based on fear, “What if I need someone and they’re not in the office?” “What if my boss decides I’m not working enough hours, even though hours aren’t supposed to matter?” “What if I don’t know what my employees are doing 24/7?” I think as we practice the system people will stop focusing on fears and start focusing on solutions.

Today the ROWE trainers gave us all a list of “scary” things to do, like leave work during the middle of the day without telling anyone, or on a day you don’t have any meetings let yourself wake up naturally instead of setting the alarm. One of my favorites is “spend time doing an after-school activity with one of your children.”  I think this system will really change the lives of a lot of working parents.

I connect everything to PSCS; I was very successfully brainwashed by your hippie cult.


PS­ – Your blog is written in an easy to read font.

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Ideas that are finally reaching the mainstream are the same ideas that Andy Smallman was putting into practice almost two decades ago. And there’s more where that came from. So here it is, my first invitation: If you love PSCS and want to support leading edge ideas, if you know that we need to build new ways of thinking about school, please consider giving a gift to in support of this campaign by clicking here or emailing a pledge to [email protected] Then, send me an email and tell me your story about why you believe in PSCS.

Remember, if we can raise $10,000 in the next 10 days, we can activate matching gifts that will generate $17,500 for the school. Our fundraising efforts support scholarships for families that need help and allow us to keep our tuition figure among the lowest in the city.

If you can give a lot, great! If you can give a little, great! The important thing to remember is that PSCS is a place that brings joy to people. Giving a gift should fill you with a sense of joy that only comes when you’re putting your values to work, when you’re expressing your deepest held convictions in support of something beautiful.

With gratitude,

Steve Miranda, Interim Director

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