Every day is different at PFS. With total freedom to direct their own time, it’s rare that our students and staff all choose to spend time the same way. Often different areas of the school seem to be on completely separate planets--a silent group of teens type on laptops upstairs while another, louder, group plays hide and go seek in the dark downstairs.
Despite these differences, there are also constants to our week --School Meeting, Judicial Committee, and Mediation all occur regularly and build routine into our schedule. Required clean-up at 3:00, and time for the whole school to play in the Rink Room following that, closes out each day.
Held once a week, School Meeting is where decisions are made about the day-to-day functioning of the school. This is where rules get made, money gets spent, visitors get approved, and much more. The meeting is run using Parliamentary Procedure to ensure all participants have a chance to be heard. Each student and staff member has an equal vote at School Meeting. Attendance is not required, and varies based on the motion being discussed. School Meeting runs the school.
Often referred to as JC, the Judicial Committee is comprised of an older student, younger student, staff member, and a Clerk. Judicial Committee meets daily to conduct a hearing about any rule infractions. JC gathers testimony from persons involved, decides the facts of what happened, and sets consequences. Members are called to mandatory service on a rotating basis, much like being called to Jury Duty. This audio clip provides more insight into the process (courtesy of I’mtellinya by Barbara Dundon).
Mediation is used at our school to handle interpersonal issues or mild rule infractions when all persons involved deem it appropriate. Students and staff at our school have the option to go through mediator training, after which they are able to host formal mediations between people. Mediators use a modified version of Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication to facilitate dialogue between parties, resulting in a mutual agreement for future interactions.
As practice in balancing freedom with responsibility, all PFS School Meeting members participate in mandatory, daily clean up beginning at 3pm.
Focus and Intensity
This short film, Focus and Intensity, provides a glimpse of life at the Sudbury Valley School, and illuminates some of the essential aspects of the way learning happens at PFS.