Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Chanin Victor
Observer Education Writer 

PS1 Pluralistic School Celebrates 50 Years of Pluralism, Celebrating the Many, Building ONE!

To give your child an education with meaning , Start with 1 

 

November 3, 2021

The curriculum, the schedule, and even the physical campus is designed to inspire both productive cooperation and individual reflection.

Alumnus Farid Adibi credits his early education at PS1 Pluralistic School for his academic and professional ambitions, his leadership skills, and the formation of his media company "Left-Middle-Right," which offers multiple perspectives on contemporary issues. Now a junior at George Washington University, Farid reflects on his time at PS1. "As a young student, PS1 welcomed my immigrant family and taught me that inclusivity is not just about race and culture. It's also about inclusivity of thought and ideas."

Farid's media firm is the perfect embodiment of PS1 Pluralistic School's ideals. Based on the principle of pluralism, PS1's philosophy is public purpose-cultivating intelligent, caring, effective citizens in a world that needs them more than ever.

"Pluralistic" in the school's name intentionally echoes the founding philosophy of the United States, E pluribus Unum-Out of many, one. For PS1, pluralism is both a goal and a method. These words convey the complex, ongoing, optimistic work of creating and sustaining a truly democratic society. These principles affirm that every child is unique, as the school nurtures individual talents and learning styles. That's how children become the best versions of themselves, in an environment where fitting in is about being yourself.

PS1 Pluralistic School was founded in 1971 on this principle of pluralism. When asked what pluralism means, founder and Head of School Joel Pelcyger says, "We believe that empathetic, innovative, collaborative thinkers can and must build a better world for all. And the best time to cultivate this vital mindset is in children's earliest years." 

Joel and his co-founder Eleanor Coben (who became his wife after they co-founded the school), opened the school to provide excellence in academics coupled with joyful learning and a sense of community. The school built an environment that encourages personal reflection and social interaction on a scale comprehensible to young children, and quickly earned a reputation for producing capable and connected citizens. 

From the first day of kindergarten through 6th grade, PS1 Pluralistic School helps students understand themselves both as individuals and as members of larger communities. The curriculum, the schedule, and even the physical campus is designed to inspire both productive cooperation and individual reflection. The award-winning, sustainable campus was developed as a model for urban elementary education... an ideal setting where learning and exploration flourishes.

As students gradually expand their comfort zones-from small-group projects to their classroom, school, neighborhood, and eventually the wider world-each learns how and why to make positive change at every level. "We view elementary school as one seven-year experience, not seven one-year experiences," says K-1st grade teacher Bonnie Koo. "These values are integrated into the daily lives of our students." 

Learning is organized around problems, projects and questions, and the teaching is typically interdisciplinary, in a context and for a purpose. There is an emphasis on collaborative problem-solving, where interdependence counts at least as much as independence. "PS1 is truly a caring community of learners," adds Bonnie. "At every age and stage of learning the children's natural development is respected."

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, PS1 Pluralistic School currently serves 209 students in nine classrooms that are divided into four clusters. Eighteen lead teachers head up the faculty, with five additional specialists in Art, Music, P.E., Library and Studio. For the Youngers (K-1st), class size is capped at 22 students per classroom. The average class size for the older students is 25.

Overall, there is 10:1 student-to-teacher ratio, and a 5:1 student-to-faculty, staff and administration ratio. Taking another exceptional approach to education, each class at PS1 welcomes students of differing ages, within a broad, 2-year age-range. PS1's campus is in the heart of Santa Monica on 1.2 acres of land and includes 30,500 square feet of buildings. Each classroom enjoys adjoining outdoor retreat spaces, and open-air education and service-learning projects at all grade levels.

The diverse student body comes from 41 zip codes and 87 different preschools and feeder schools. 47% are students of color, as are 51% of the faculty and staff, while 22% of the faculty are male. 25% of the student body receives financial aid, from a pool of $1.4 million in financial aid grants. 19.5% of tuition income is allocated to financial aid and the average student grant is 74.4% of full tuition. PS1 is WASC-accredited.

PS1 Pluralistic School chooses to stay small so that all voices are heard and valued, accentuating both the individual as well as the connections that bring people together. You might say the school goes to great lengths to honor the same points of view that alumnus Farid learned as a PS1 student: "Left-Middle-Right." And that's what makes this school so unique.

PS1 Pluralistic School invites the public to the following events, including its Anniversary Speaking Series celebrating 50 years of pluralism:

From the first day of kindergarten through 6th grade, PS1 Pluralistic School helps students understand themselves both as individuals and as members of larger communities.

Hear one of the most influential creative minds of the 21st century, Mick Ebeling of Impossible Labs. Don't miss this rare opportunity to hear Mick up close and personal, talk about how everything is possible, or rather, nothing is impossible. Free and open to the public, for both in person and virtual.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021, 6 pm. , PS1 Pluralistic School, 1225 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90404

FALL ADMISSIONS TOUR DATES: On-Campus and Virtual

October 28 - 11:00 am - Virtual November 4 - 4:00 pm - On-Campus 

November 11 - 4:00 pm - Virtual November 18 - 4:00 pm - On-Campus

December 2 - 4:00 pm - On-Campus December 9 - 4:00 pm - On-Campus 

For more information including to register for the Speakers Series and admissions tours, visit http://www.psone.org and follow on social media FB @PS1PluralisticSchool, IG @ps1_pluralisticschool

 

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