The word “provident” means “to provide for the future,” but it’s difficult for children to look to their future when they have difficulty reading. Provident Charter School was founded to offer children who have dyslexia and other language-based learning differences with a high-quality, well-rounded education delivered through multisensory instructional methods and individual learning plans that enable students to move into high school prepared to succeed and confident in their own abilities.
“Provident Charter School is the only school of its kind in southwestern Pennsylvania, and we have two locations. PCS Central opened in 2016 and is located on Troy Hill in the former North Catholic High School on the North Side, and it is chartered under the authority of the Pittsburgh Public Schools. Our newest location, PCS West, is located in Baden and is housed in the former Quigley Catholic High School and is chartered under the Ambridge Area School District,” said Maria Paluselli, Provident’s Chief Executive Officer.
It is estimated that up to 20% of the population has dyslexia, and this neurological condition can frustrate and perplex students as well as parents. “We see students come into the classroom afraid, lacking in confidence, hating school, and with PCS’s instructional model that is designed for students with dyslexia, we see dramatic changes time after time,” said Ms. Paluselli.
PCS is a tuition-free, brick and mortar public school, and PCS Central educates students from 45 different school districts. Enrollment at PCS Central is nearly full, but PCS West is currently accepting students in grades 1-4. “Our goal is to prepare students to transition to high school, and so far, we are hearing positive things from the students who have moved on to high school,” said Ms. Paluselli
Some of the unique features of PCS include: Daily reading instruction by teachers certified using the Wilson®Reading System, small group instruction with classrooms having two teachers and 12 students. The school day is slightly longer, and no homework is given until fifth grade. In addition to specialized interventions, PCS is the only public school in the country that offers Tae Kwon Do as a weekly special area class along with traditional Music, Art, PE, and Digital Media. A well-used Makerspace allows students to design, build and creatively demonstrate their knowledge of content using other media besides paper and pencil.
“It’s incredible the transformation we see in our students,” said Ms. Paluselli. “I receive texts with pictures from parents of their children on the beach reading for enjoyment. These were students who would never consider picking up a book. We start by building strong relationships with our students, so they are willing to take academic risks with us. For some students, several years of intense remediation is required, but the payoff is significant. Now, instead of tears because of frustrations in the classroom, we have more tears at graduation because of what our students have been able to achieve.”
For more information on Provident Charter School, visit the website at: www.providentcharterschool.org.
By Janice Lane Palko