Thank you for all of these honest and helpful comments. As an employee at PSCS, I want to make a quick note: Although, the PSCS curriculum is designed to help students become self-directed and self-motivated adults, PSCS does not identify itself as a Democratic School. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with the philosophies that bolster Sudbury schools, PSCS does not adhere to that particular educational model ("where students have complete responsibility for their education and the school is run by direct democracy...and there is no predetermined educational syllabus, prescriptive curriculum or standardized instruction"). The Advisor/Student relationship is an integral part of the PSCS experience. Courses and activities are pitched by teachers and volunteers based on student input, but also on their own interests and expertise. Although there are no letter grades offered, and student input is highly valued, rules and structure are often determined by the staff for the betterment of the community. Lastly, while I continue to hope we can be more transparent in the future, in the 2014-15 school year, 23% of our 50 students received almost $90,000 in Tuition Aid.
PSCS Forgot that they are a "democratic" school. They have set their prices so high that only rich kids can attend. Even though they claim to offer tuition assistance, the process is not transparent, and few families are ever granted it. All of these schools need to figure out how to offer a low, set fee for everyone. Or if they could become charter schools, so the taxes we already pay can be applied, that would help too.
PSCS is a great school that works to prepare kids for all aspects of their adult life. Staff work closely with each and every student to build the skills they'll need to be smart, community-oriented, confident, motivated people in the world. PSCS is not a school whose staff is primarily equipped to work with students who have Asberger's or are on the Spectrum. It is a school that can occasionally meet the needs of kids with these learning diagnoses, depending how they manifest. Staff works hard to see how each new individual might best further the growth of the entire community, not just how PSCS might be beneficial to one particular kid. Check out Dan Pink's book "Drive: What Really Motivates Us" for a write up on PSCS and more info on why this model works.
(Note: It is not illegal to descriminate when the organization operates without federal funds or Grants.) PSCS does not acccept Asperger students. I received an honest and direct letter stating this fact, after we were invited to visit (Yes, they knew beforehand). Student is 14, 8th grd. w/3.8 gpa attending minstream classes in public school. Exhibits minimum to none neurological physical reactions (i.e.tics),great eye-to-eye contact, initiating conversations with impecable manners and engaging smiles. Independent decision making was interpreted as "missing social cues." Student is self-directing, successful local artist, currently attending basic course in animation, musical acting camps, with strong interest in Robotics. Student is also a considerate non-conformist. Not a fit for PSCS. School offers wonderful non-stress, less structured, less-demanding environment. Teachers try to be creative with courses,(think Oprah's book club and Lego/Aztec). Does not apper to provide "next-level" courses for gifted. Great place for a regular kid trying to find their direction in a calm, safe environment, surrounded by like-minded individuals. Asperger's=stress. Skip this one.
If you are looking for the best 'non-traditional' school, one that really knows how to get kids to love school and love learning, PSCS is it! My son attended public school most of his life and I never saw any passion to learn like I have at PSCS. He is becoming a very mature, confident teenager who has focus on his path in life. The director and staff are amazing people who actually 'LOVE' teaching and enjoy touching the lives of children which is severely lacking in our public schools today. There is true sense of the word 'community' among the students which is such a great advantage as they move on into the real world. For anyone who is considering sending their child to this school, I recommend reading one of Alfie Kohn's books which explains the philosophy of PSCS which will explain the numerous advantages of a 'progressive education'.
My son began attending here after 9 years in the public school system. My decision to enroll him in PSCS came after watching his self-confidence erode as a result of the poor school culture he experienced at his junior high school, and watching his attitude toward learning become negative and cynical. But PSCS was the cure! Never have I seen him so excited about learning and actually WANT to go to school! His self-confidence and maturity have soared, as well. THIS is the educational model that kids need. I cannot say enough great things about PSCS. I only wish there were more schools like this!
PSCS is an innovative, cutting edge school that is preparing students to become leaders who can make a difference in our ever changing world. It is a unique and rare oasis in an educational desert which support kids to be fully and express who they are. My son loves it and is thriving there.
Puget Sound Community School is both a school FOR the community and a school that operates as a community. The student-centered and student-driven curriculum is emergent, pertinent and promotes lifelong interest in learning. Students can learn at their own pace while experiencing the reality of fully engaging with their peers and the staff. Out of building learning is highly valued. The teaching staff are superb. Her two years at PSCS prepared our daughter for her next step on her educational path.
PSCS is a hands-on, experiential learning environment where students learn to think for themselves, and then do for themselves. Our daughter gained the confidence to start creating the future she had always wanted but thought was beyond her... now she knows she can live what she dreams.