Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: How would you describe PNCS, in a nutshell?
A: The Pittsburgh New Church School is an excellent, small, private, independent, religious school located in Point Breeze, near Frick Park, in Pittsburgh. We offer Pre-K and Kindergarten, an elementary school, and a middle school, up through 8th grade. Our school is a great option for families in the area who want:
- the academic quality of a top private school,
- the values and affordability of a church-affiliated school,
- the creativity and relaxedness that you might find in a Waldorf or Montessori school,
- the flexibility and friendliness and responsiveness that small schools can offer.
Q: What grades do you offer?
A: We offer Pre-K and Kindergarten, and Grades 1 through 8.
Q: What is the school schedule?
A: The school day begins at 8:30 AM, and ends at 3:00 PM. The elementary and middle schools are in session 5 days a week, but the Pre-K and Kindergarten programs are on a 3-day, M-W-F schedule.
Q: What is the typical class size?
A: We keep class sizes very small; there are typically 6-10 students per classroom. Sometimes we combine them for bigger group activities, and sometimes we divide them for focused attention.
Q: How do multi-grade classrooms work?
A: In our multi-grade classrooms, we use variety of whole- and small-group instruction methods. Typically, in math, groups of students will alternate between working with the teacher and working on their own, practicing, or preparing. In language arts, students read and write at their own levels, with guidance given to the whole group. For science, social studies and religion, we use a multi-year rotating curriculum, where the students all work together, with the teacher, mastering a given body of knowledge, so that each student learns the whole curriculum. It's a little like the old one-room schoolhouses. We have found strong advantages to this approach: students develop the ability to work with other ages, they learn to work more independently, and they can more readily move faster, or, if need be, more slowly, without it being a dislocation.
Q: What's good about being a private school?
A: Private schools have several key advantages. We are free to teach values. Our flexibility in hiring allows us to create
an outstanding team - some full-time, some part-time, some volunteers. In admissions, we are able to look for
students who will bring a good attitude, and who will benefit from what we have to offer. That
helps us gather a really nice group of students. In our curriculum, too, we don't have to teach to particular
tests, we can readily change to new ways of doing things, and we can adapt to each child's needs.
The downside is that - while public schools are supported by your tax dollars, private schools aren't, so we have to charge for tuition. At PNCS, we're lucky that we get a lot of support from our associated church, and from endowment, and we do everything we can to keep our school affordable.
Q: What's good about being a small school?
A: There's a strong community feeling. The students all get to know each other, and create meaningful friendships. The teachers know all the students. It's a safe environment. The small size supports academic excellence; everyone really does have an individualized education plan, and we track progress. We notice if kids are having trouble, and we can react quickly. Small classes also permit plenty of opportunities for creativity in the classroom and curriculum. Our multi-age and multi-grade classrooms allow for more personalized instruction. Parents, students and teachers are all working together to create a really effective school, and it shows!
Q: What's good about being a Christian school?
A: The good thing about being a Christian school is that we are free to teach according to Christian principles, which helps us create a positive environment where children get a great holistic education. We see our work at PNCS as helping to prepare children for happy, useful lives to eternity. Here are some of the things we do to ground our ideas out in practice:
- We start the day with whole-school chapel twice a week, and our teachers leads simple classroom services on other days.
- We teach Scripture Studies, and students learn recitations, songs, and stories that help bring the lessons of the Word to life..
- We teach kindness - loving the neighbor.
- We emphasize developing the abilities we need to be of useful service.
- The teachers can purposefully to consider each child's spiritual growth.
Q: What's your curriculum like?
A: This is a big question, and it's answered in a number of places on this web site. Briefly, though, the subjects aren't that unusual -- we teach math, reading, writing, social studies, science, art, religion and music. There's a strong emphasis on experiential learning, and on being out and about in nature. There's also a strong foundation of teaching our students how to be good people. That's part of the curriculum, and it makes all the difference.
Q: Where is PNCS located?
A: PNCS is at 299 LeRoi Road, in Pittsburgh. It's in South Point Breeze, near the Frick Park Market, Sterrett School, The Frick, and Frick Park. We've got a nice campus tucked away in a cul-de-sac. We're only a mile from Bakery Square and Shadyside, and only 3 miles from Pitt and CMU.
Q: What are your facilities like?
A: PNCS is in a beautiful stone Tudor style building from 1930. There are 5 main classrooms, a full kitchen, an auditorium. The building was recently expanded, and made handicapped accessible. The grounds are attractive; there's a paved area for four-square and basketball and kickball, and there are several lawns where the students play. In recent years, we've had a student garden, where we grow our own vegetables (and eat them!)
Q: What about lunch?
A: Students bring packed lunches. We have a nicely equipped kitchen, but we typically use it for special activities, like processing the harvest from our school garden, festival days, and cooking related to school subjects.
Q: Do you offer before and after school care?
A: No, we don't, but we may be able to recommend some options for you.
Q: What extra-curricular activities do you offer?
A: We have a garden club, but the students mostly do extracurricular activities like soccer, karate, and ballet in local leagues and community organizations.
Q: What busing options are there?
A: Students within a 10 mile radius of the school are eligible for free school bus rides to and from school, arranged through their local school district.
Q: What about tuition and other costs and financial aid?
Q: What's PNCS's religious affiliation?
A: PNCS is affiliated with the Pittsburgh New Church. The New Church is a new branch of Christianity which started in the UK in the late 1700s, and in time has become a global church. Please see our pages on Key New Church ideas, and Philosophy, for more information.
Q: How would you compare PNCS to cyber schooling?
A: Overall, there's going to be a big difference between PNCS and cyber school. That said, let's start by looking at likely similarities:
- Both models can allow students learn at their own level of ability.
- In both types, students will develop a degree of independence.
- At PNCS, students don't get overlooked or overwhelmed. A good cyber school will also provide that safety net.
- Teachers can work closely with each child, offering support, challenging, engaging, and interacting face to face.
- Students learn to work and play together. They build lasting friendships.
- The curriculum is enriched with arts, music, hands-on experiences, physical education, and gardening.
- Students collaborate: sharing books with each other, comparing methods of solving a math problem, giving each other feedback on written work, acting out stories or historical events, etc.