Project Learn School is a place where my children can be themselves fully. We have been part of the PLS community for 3 years and our 7-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son can tell that the staff care about them as individuals not just as students. My son loved his multimedia research project so much that we never had to cajole him into working on the assignment. He made a stop-motion Lego movie about Greek mythology in addition to writing a 10-page research paper about the subject. The small school with its interdisciplinary programming and frequent multi-age groupings encourages accountability among all community members. It's wonderful to see older children from the junior high hanging out with the youngest children--not only does it help the younger students feel included in a supportive environment it gives the older students important mentoring experiences that grow their confidence and sense of responsibility. PLS welcomes the contributions of its parents which was not the case in our daughter's kindergarten school. Our children are learning the crucial skills of how to work cooperatively make decisions democratically and solve problems creatively.
Project Learn School is a private middle school in Philadelphia. The principal of Project Learn School is Ms Lisa Pack. 65 children attend Project Learn School and are mostly Asian; White, non-Hispanic; and Black, non-Hispanic. The student to teacher ratio at Project Learn School is 7:1. Roosevelt Theodore Middle School is one of the nearest middle schools.
- Ceramics sculpture
- Computer arts
- Drawing painting
- Theater drama
- Video film production
- P.E. classes
- Ultimate Frisbee
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Project Learn School is the best fit for our family. When we began our school search two years ago we visited our catchment school a neighboring elementary school a local charter school and Project Learn School. PLS was a bit of a stretch - we are a single income family and never imagined paying for Kindergarten. Ultimately we chose to send our daughter to PLS because it is a diverse school where parents teachers and students work together to make school a safe and exciting place for children to learn and develop into another generation of informed proactive citizens. My family along with other cleaning co-opers take pride in doing our cleaning co-op four Saturdays in the school year. Finding the time to complete cooping responsibilities (be it 10 hrs a year or 40 hrs a year) is no easy feat in the 21st Century. Knowing that all of us are collectively working to make our school function for the good of the school is a great motivator. If you're considering Project Learn School I invite you to call for a tour. Seeing PLS in action for yourself is the best way to determine if it's the best fit for your family!
I've been a parent at Project Learn School for seven years and I'm grateful to have been a part of its evolution. PLS is a learning environment ideally suited the 21st century encouraging children to think critically while working together in project-based groups. Social Emotional Learning (or SEL) -- which has lately become a major buzzword in educational theory -- has been a part of the PLS core curriculum since its founding in 1970. What some other reviewers have pointed to as negatives (the non-hierarchical cooperative leadership structure) I view as an added bonus because of the school's "crowd sourced" leadership I have been intimately involved not only in my child's education but have been schooled myself in concepts surrounding the educational process -- and community development -- in ways I could not have imagined. Learning in my mind is never finished and PLS is the perfect place for children to set off on the journey of life-long learning and for parents to continue it.
We did not choose this school for it governance style Town Meetings or Co-oping. We picked this school because it was the Best Choice for our daughter. It has small class sizes about 10 students a "grade." If I wanted to come into the classroom for the day I can. It is a community that works together to educate its children. No it is not perfect but no community is. Within this community teachers know all the students personalities and interests. They work as a team to bring out the potential of each student and helps students reach additional goals. Our daughter has opened up made friends across the grades is growing to positively interact with a diverse community. Project Learn actively incorporates best practices; but more importantly they live it.
I am sad to say that after a year at PLS I would not recommend this school unless you are enjoy monthly endless meetings having the same discussions over and over again and spending four Sundays a year cleaning the bathrooms (yes in addition to the fun of paying $15 000 a year you also get to do 4 cleaning shifts!). As with many institutions that feel that "everyone is in charge " the reality is that no one is in charge. The communication at this school is appalling. And although they seem to believe that decisions are made by the "PLS community " the truth is that a handful of people are the ones who really make decisions. They also seem surprised that more people aren't interested in the school but they will not change their 40 hour a year co-op requirement. That's just not realistic for families with parents who work full time. I will say that the teachers are generally great though. But trust me it isn't worth the aggravation.
Prepare to be disillusioned. Project Learn School does not have a principal. It has an administrative committee that makes decisions about what issues to bring before the parent community for them to vote on. If this sounds cumbersome time consuming and stressful that is because it is! I chose PLS because I hoped for involvement in my children's school. However this place just spins in circles with no leadership and no ability to make important decisions. Read your contract carefully. It is important to note that if the school makes a mistake on its budget (prepared by a parent) and runs out of money mid-year they have the right to bill an extra tuition payment to each family to make up for the shortfall. They have done this in many recent years so be prepared to pay more than you think. The school environment is warm and friendly but many families have left in recent years due to concerns about academic quality. I agree with the child centered philosophy of the school however children still need academic preparation (i.e. cover the appropriate coursework) in order to be prepared to participate with their peers from other schools in high school.
This is a wonderful school with dedicated creative teachers and a strong curriculum. There are so many wonderful "extras" that compliment the educational program. Kids are encouraged to work independently and learn for the sake of learning. I can't imagine sending my kids to any other school.
The art program at Project Learn is excellent. However sadly this is where the excellence ends. Although they advertise that the teachers are certified the majority are not. Also they brand themselves as a "humanistic" school. At one point I believe they may have been however this does not seem to be the case currently. Because of their Humanistic message however they attract many children who are different learners. They involve the families take their money but fail to provide the proper education for these children. They are doing a great disservice to many children and their families but without their revenue the whole school would financially fail. As far as the cooperative aspect of this school there is nothing cooperative about it. A few families dominate resulting in the minority choosing the school's direction. This school lacks follow through needed leadership or resources to teach the majority of it's students. If you are to visit please note the physical appearance of this school greatly reflects the school itself i.e. disorganized. I feel very sorry for the few decent teachers and families that remain. Buyer beware!
PL is the best out there! My daughter attended PL and it was a wonderful part of her educational journal. We loved this school so much that we still support the work that they do almost ten years later. BRAVO PL!!!
We have been part of the Project Learn (PL) community since 1997. I love the co-oping and governance structures - parents can get involved in their child's education in a deep and meaningful way both by using their individual skills and as part of the Town Meeting which makes all major decisions for the school. Both of our kids looked forward to going to school every day while at PL. Our oldest went to Central for high school loved it and graduated in the top 10 then got a scholarship to the Honors College at U. of Md. The staff and community at PL are wonderful and the kids learn skills about taking responsibility for their own learning and looking out for themselves using social skills and creative problem solving.
This is a wonderful school. I've watched my shy girl blossom into a confident and happy child who loves school loves reading and has made really strong friendships. The school provides the right environment for her to feel secure in her own abilities where she can "just be herself." I highly recommend this school to any parent who is looking for small classroom sizes (12 to 16 kids per class!) individual attention great art high standards and a love of learning and teaching!
Project Learn School is the best elementary independent school in the Philadelphia area because it teaches to the student not the test.
Children are whole people there. They develop their minds and their social selves there seamlessly. They graduate whole people not just test scores.
Project Learn School makes learning a truly joyful endeavor. The teachers here really love the kids and love teaching. They work very hard to make learning a hands-on experience whenever possible. Kids get choices and in that way become responsible for their own education. Both of my kids love this school and are thriving. I love the community-- working together with other parents and teachers to make PLS a wonderful place for all of our kids.
We are so happy to have our daughter at Project Learn School. After searching far and wide for exactly the right environment - open child-centered non-competitive - when we walked into PLS we knew that this was it. PLS teaches kids to think and explore and our daughter loves to learn. She wants to come to school on the weekend! We have no doubt that she like the majority of PLS grads will go on to the high school and college of her choice and blossom into the thoughtful compassionate leader she is meant to become.
Project Learn cannot seem to follow through. There are some good ideas and some very nice people but the quality and rigor of the actual curriculum is only mediocre. It is important for children to be in an environment that is friendly but with such a limited group of children and constant turnover of teachers it's often difficult for everyone to have a place. The school loses many children each year because of this but does not want to accept responsibility. In addition when students go on to high school many of them struggle and find big gaps in what they are supposed to know. Project Learn is a lively place but lively does not make a great education.
Project Learn School (the ONLY cooperative school in Philadelphia) is one of this city's hidden treasures! Our daughter has been at PLS for two years and we could not be happier with her education and personal growth. Learning cooperatively and often in mixed age groups is simply a gift to all of the students. She feels safe with all of the teachers there and in fact wrote in her journal last year (in Kindergarten) that 'all the teachers love me here.' In what other school would an 8th grader befriend a kindergartner? Our daughter cried at the 8th grade graduation because she was losing one of her 'best friends.' We expect to be a part of this school community for many years to come!
My family has been a part of the Project Learn school community for over 9 years. It has been a great place for both my kids - each very different in learning styles and strengths. Yes it is a bit of a challenge to figure out how to work cooperatively with a range of parents teachers and administrators - but it is a gift for my children to have the opportunity to see that making a learning community is an ongoing effort that is important to a diverse group of staff and parents. The teaching staff is on average excellent - though it takes a few years for new teachers to really understand the PL way. The small Jr. High is a very nice way for teens to have an extended family experience with their peers. Spend a morning visiting - you'll see!
Project Learn has missed the mark. It has some fabulous teachers and some with very little training or experience. Because enrollment has seriously declined in the past few years my daughter has fewere and fewer friends in her group. The people are nice but the expectations for academics are low. There is also a high turnover of teachers.
This has been a fabulous school for my son. He knows everyone in the building and really feels like he's part of something special. He's proud of his school and is happy to go there every day. The teachers are very invested in their students -- not just their learning but also their social and emotional development which is so important. As a family we couldn't be happier with Project Learn.