Ian Rice ('19): Speak Up by Haley Tilt
As Philly Free School approaches its tenth year, we caught up with recent alum Ian (‘19) to see what he’s doing now. To support the Real Learning, Real Results at PFS, please consider donating to help us meet our $20k fundraising goal: https://phillyfreeschool.org/help-out
Ian just graduated and he’s currently employed at the Queen & Rook Game Cafe in South Philly. He works as a gamekeeper, helping people find board games and teaching them the rules. He credits PFS with his strength as a teacher: “Being in an age-mixed setting taught me how to talk to anyone; child, adult, however I may see them and however they may see me.”
Unlike most other board game cafes, most of the owners and staff at Queen and Rook are people of color and women. Ian appreciates the egalitarian culture at work: “It’s a very diverse space. The owners and management believe that people should be heard and treated well, and that includes employees. It’s a space where you are able to use your power as a person and advocate for yourself.”
It makes sense that such a culture would appeal to Ian, who was so integral to the school’s democratic community: “At one point I realized there were issues at School Meeting that I cared about, and so I started to show up.” And show up he did. Ian served as JC Clerk, then School Meeting Chair, then School Meeting Secretary until he graduated. He also served on several ad-hoc committees, where he took on heavy responsibilities like conducting investigations and corresponding with lawyers. He tells me how those experiences shaped his commitment to advocacy: “those roles showed me the value of my own power, and the value of other people’s power, and how important it is to use whatever power you have for other people.”
He strongly believes that the world would be a better place if more people had the opportunity to find their own voice: “My biggest criticism of more conventional schooling is that it doesn’t prepare people for the real world, it prepares them to perpetuate the system under capitalism. One of the most important things I learned at PFS is that anyone can affect change. If something needs to happen you just have to do it, right? That is your responsibility.”
PFS: Real learning. Real results. To support, please consider contributing to our Annual Appeal fundraiser: https://phillyfreeschool.org/help-out.