Thursday, January 14, 2010

PS1 was my high school

As a pioneer student at PS1 it sad for me to see it close, but not surprising. I went through all of high school at PS1 and graduated as the valedictorian 10 years ago. PS1 was good to me in those 4 years and I believed that it offered students a place where they could explore learning based on their interests.

I spent time studying art, design and science. Under the guidance of Micheal Gadlin (a respected painter in the Denver area and Pratt Graduated) I decided I would pursue art and design school. While I was at PS1 I sat on the neighborhood planning board for the newly developing Golden Triangle neighborhood and interned at Fentress Bradburn a world renowned architecture firm. Using everything I learned from these experiences I applied to multiple art schools for Industrial Design and was accepted to all of them with scholarships. I ended up attending Pratt Institute where my mentor had gone.

PS1 did not teach me stuff -it taught me to learn. It taught that if I enjoyed what I was studying I would work harder on it. This has served me well my entire life through college into the working world. I am self directed learner and worker and I attribute that to how PS1 was structured.

The other thing that I learned at PS1 that has been invaluable to me was critical and creative thinking and the ability to present my ideas to peers and teachers. Now they are closing my high school and I understand why.

Our founder Rex Brown never envisioned PS1 to house students who had no other place to go or educational/behavioral problems that other schools could not handle. This is what PS1 became. PS1 was created to prove that if you give students the resources they will want to learn and teach themselves. The identity of PS1 was strong even when we were in the 6th floor of the Library. The School tried many different structures to get the student to respond to this form of learning. What has happened is PS1 has lost its leadership and identity, the year I graduated I feared that this would one day happen.

As Rex Brown taught me this Jeffersonian style of learning needs to not only be embraced by the faculty but the students as well for it to work. Hopefully at some point the loss of PS1 can be replaced by something else that encourages self learning and explorations, internships, community outreach, portfolios and student-led presentations.

PS1 was a utopia in myopic school system that overlooked different way to teach students.

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