ACADEMICS >

Our Approach

PUCS was founded on the belief that all of life is rooted in Christ the Redeemer who is the integrator of our lives. We inspire our students to see the world as a whole, emphasizing the natural connections between subjects.

Teaching the Whole Child

At PUCS, we encourage students to get out of their seats, to explore the world around them, and to ask challenging questions. We inspire students to see all of life as interconnected while we practice learning and serving in a diverse, urban setting.

The PUCS difference is in our priorities. We believe that by focusing on the needs and opportunities of our students at every age, by encouraging a sense of wonder, and by engaging mind, body, and spirit, academic success will come. And it has, for thousands of students.

Jesus warned, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” It’s our job to make sure that whatever children are able to see – which adults apparently struggle to perceive – is preserved and nurtured.

We believe our approach to education guides and shapes children’s God-given curiosity about the world, which helps them thrive beyond our walls as they grow academically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Curiosity, Play, and Exploration

PUCS promotes learning through student engagement with the community while nurturing their innate curiosity.

Integral Curriculum

Our lives are like a beautiful tapestry. True understanding is seen as the threads of mathematics, art, social or cultural studies (government), science, and literature are woven together. Real comprehension of any one of them is distorted if you pluck a thread out of the weaving. Students who attend PUCS do not open a science book, only to follow it with yet another unrelated literature book. Instead, the students connect the influence of scientific discoveries with historical events. An integrated curriculum assembles the various academic disciplines into thematic units.

This thematic orientation provides opportunities that are rooted in the concrete experiences of the child. For example, when children study plants, not only do they learn about the parts and species but are inspired by poems and literature, scientific observations and people like George Washington Carver who advanced our understanding of plants. In addition, they see plants as created by God and entrusted to people to enjoy and use for the maintenance of life, for the well-being of all people, and for God’s glory. Each unit begins with a subject already of interest to the child. It then builds on the child’s existing experience with new skills and resources from each discipline. Everything that the students do, whether they are investigating, analyzing, or experiencing, will help them develop a deeper understanding for God’s creation.

Skills and Conceptual Development

At the same time, where detailed basic skills require conceptual clarity and repeated practice, time is spent focusing on separate domains. In other words, some sets of skills need continual focus for basic skill learning and practice throughout the year. Teachers will focus on personal and social development, learning skills, mathematics and physical development in their daily and weekly routines. For example, students will learn to care for each other through prayer, to organize their belongings and assignments, to memorize math facts, and to exercise their growing bodies. Skills in these areas will be integrated with the themes as appropriate.

Unit-based Learning

The PUCS curriculum brings together content from multiple subjects into creative learning units. Each unit is organized around a social studies or science theme that provides framework for instruction in reading, writing, math, music, and art.

In the course of the school year, our K-5 students will immerse themselves in the study of five grade-specific units plus one all-school unit. Our Middle School students follow a three-year rotation through literary, social studies, and science areas that integrates content-connected arts and skills development.

Overall, our integrated curriculum promotes a deeper understanding and makes learning meaningful, relevant and fun.

Our Teaching Philosophy

Biblical Perspective: We seek to be a Christian School providing children with an education grounded in the truth that God is creator, sustainer, and redeemer. We believe that the Bible as the written Word of God is the Truth by which the Holy Spirit enlightens our understanding of God, the world and ourselves is the infallible authority by which He directs and governs all our activities, including the education of our children. Scripture shapes everything we do at PUCS. (II Timothy 3:16; Ephesians 6:4)  We desire to take seriously the call to stewardship of our children’s growth and development. All of life, including the studies and disciplines in which our children are engaged, are governed and directed by the authority of the Scriptures. As a school community, we strive to demonstrate the principles, which God has defined for us in Scripture, as we work together in unity.

Small Class Size: Each class will ideally have between 15-18 students. We believe small classes are necessary to meet the varied needs of young children as they grow and develop during their early education. In a small class, children can be known according to their unique gifts, abilities, areas of challenge, learning style, temperament, family background and spiritual maturity.  Teachers can genuinely care for and be involved with each child and his/her family.

Multi-Grade Classes: PUCS will intentionally group multiple grade levels together. Children mature socially, emotionally and academically at different rates, and there should be flexibility in a classroom to allow for plateaus and growth spurts. Multi-grade classrooms encourage cooperative learning and the development of leadership skills among students of varying levels. They also provide time for catch-up for those at transitional levels of achievement. At PUCS, our students have many positive opportunities to learn and interact with older and younger children, as well as with adults.

Field Trips: Field trips and other forms of experiential education are essential components of our integrated curriculum. Our small class size enables the students to go on frequent field trips where they have the opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom. At the beginning of the school year, parents and/or guardians are expected to sign a “blanket” permission slip that will be applied to all field trips throughout the entire school year.

Our Educational Practices

Achievement Testing

Achievement tests are scheduled in the spring for students in grades 2 through 8. To aid us in evaluating each child’s understanding of academic skills, we administer a nationally-normed achievement test. They also give teachers feedback on instructional strengths and weakness.  Keep in mind that these scores do not report on a child’s spiritual, social, emotional, physical or attitudinal growth, but are simply indicators of general academic progress. Furthermore, they are just one indicator of the child’s academic progress.

Camping Trip

The late September camping trip is a parent-led elementary school (grades K-8) annual event. Teachers and parent volunteers supervise the trip. We encourage one member of each family to attend, if possible. 

Chapel

Chapel is held on Wednesday mornings. A teacher or guest speaker leads the school in a time of singing, praying, and sharing. Parents and relatives are always welcome to attend.

Computers

Classroom-size computer lab is available for teachers and students to use as a learning tool.  A filtered Internet system is installed on all computers. Computers are used only for educational purposes and are monitored by a staff member at all times.

Evaluation

There are three evaluation periods each year. Evaluations include a checklist and written comments from the teacher. Twice a year teachers meet with each student’s parent(s) or guardian to discuss the comprehensive growth and progress of the child in all areas of school life. He/she is evaluated in the areas of personal and social development, physical development, language and literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, and Spanish. Samples of each student’s work are collected in a portfolio to show growth, using rubrics that specify project components and expectations. Students in the Middle School will receive percentage scores in all disciplines. Software ThinkWave makes assignment completion and grades directly available to parents and guardians.

Homework

At PUCS, our curriculum in the elementary school is arranged in a way that allows students to engage in a full range of focused educational experiences during the school day, thus eliminating the need for much homework in the lower elementary grades. When homework is assigned to students, it may be

for one or more of the following reasons: to give additional time to an individual child to pursue a particular interest; to allow a student to finish an incomplete assignment; to practice newly learned skills or to reinforce old skills; to bring the student into contact with out-of-school educational resources; or to promote a growing sense of responsibility in the student. Our curriculum in the Middle School prepares students for High School, and includes writing, research and out-of-school assignments.

In-Service

Teacher in-service days are scheduled several times a year for teachers’ development and enrichment.

Library

PUCS is equipped with books and resources for each unit.  PUCS students also have access to the Wilkinsburg Public Library at their teacher’s discretion.

Recess

Recess/Break Time for all grades takes place at Ferguson Park on South Ave. Two recess aides are always on duty with a first aid kit and cell phones. Children are encouraged to interact with classmates and creatively play during this free time. We will be outside unless it is raining, extremely cold, or snowing at the time of recess at our discretion.