Three Rivers Village School

Last updated
Three Rivers Village School
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
(Hazelwood (Pittsburgh) neighborhood)

United States
Coordinates 40°24′26″N79°56′31″W / 40.40722°N 79.94194°W / 40.40722; -79.94194 Coordinates: 40°24′26″N79°56′31″W / 40.40722°N 79.94194°W / 40.40722; -79.94194
GradesKindergarten through twelfth grade
Number of students25
Campus type Urban
TuitionSliding scale
Philosophy Democratic education

Three Rivers Village School is the first democratic school in Pittsburgh, PA. It operates on the Sudbury school model of democratic education. Three Rivers Village School opened in the Fall of 2013 and accepts students from Kindergarten through twelfth grade. It is a tuition-based private school that offers a sliding scale tuition rate. [1] As of Fall 2014, it enrolls around 25 students.

Pittsburgh City in western Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is a city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States, and is the county seat of Allegheny County. A population of about 301,048 residents live within the city limits, making it the 66th-largest city in the U.S. The metropolitan population of 2,324,743 is the largest in both the Ohio Valley and Appalachia, the second-largest in Pennsylvania, and the 27th-largest in the U.S.

A Sudbury school is a type of school, usually for the K-12 age range, where students have complete responsibility for their own education, and the school is run by a direct democracy in which students and staff are almost equals. Students independently decide what to do with their time, and tend to learn as a by-product of ordinary experience rather than through coursework. There is no predetermined educational syllabus, prescriptive curriculum or standardized instruction. This is a form of democratic education. Daniel Greenberg, one of the founders of the original Sudbury Model school, writes that the two things that distinguish a Sudbury Model school are that everyone - adults and children - are treated equally and that there is no authority other than that granted by the consent of the governed.

Democratic education

Democratic education is an educational ideal in which democracy is both a goal and a method of instruction. It brings democratic values to education and can include self-determination within a community of equals, as well as such values as justice, respect and trust. Democratic education is often specifically emancipatory, with the students' voices being equal to the teacher's.


Three Rivers Village School emphasizes personal responsibility, innate thoughtfulness and trust in the judgement of its students and strives to foster a community of equals governed by democratic values, instead of the hierarchy, standardized testing, and arbitrary rule following enforced in the traditional schooling model.


The students at Three Rivers Village School are free to spend their time during each school day in whatever way they wish, as long as they adhere to the rules defined by the School Meeting. Resources available to the students include books, computers, musical instruments, a kitchen, art supplies, toys, outdoor space, off-site field trips, as well as the knowledge and experience of staff and other students. Every member of the school, staff and students alike, has an equal voice at the weekly School Meeting, where the day-to-day operations of the school are determined.

School rules, created by the School Meeting, are compiled into a rule book that is enforced by the Justice Committee. Every member of the school participates in Justice Committee, which is a daily meeting of students and staff. All decisions about rule making, discipline, suspensions, expulsions, etc. are made democratically, with each member of the school having an equal vote.


Three Rivers Village School opened in fall of 2013 at 4721 Stanton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, in the city's Stanton Heights neighborhood. [2] The school was founded by a group of parents and teachers including Evan Mallory [3] and Jean Marie Pearce. [4] After two years of operation, the school moved in 2015 from its original Stanton Heights location to the former St. Stephen's School building at 134 East Elizabeth Street, Pittsburgh, PA in the Hazelwood section of the city. [5]

See also

Education reform is the name given to the goal of changing public education. Historically, reforms have taken different forms because the motivations of reformers have differed. However, since the 1980s, education reform has been focused on changing the existing system from one focused on inputs to one focused on outputs. In the United States, education reform acknowledges and encourages public education as the primary source of K-12 education for American youth. Education reformers desire to make public education into a market, where accountability creates high-stakes from curriculum standards tied to standardized tests. As a result of this input-output system, equality has been conceptualized as an end point, which is often evidenced by an achievement gap among diverse populations. This conceptualization of education reform is based on the market-logic of competition. As a consequence, competition creates inequality which has continued to drive the market-logic of equality at an end point by reproduce the achievement gap among diverse youth. The one constant for all forms of education reform includes the idea that small changes in education will have large social returns in citizen health, wealth and well-being. For example, a stated motivation has been to reduce cost to students and society. From ancient times until the 1800s, one goal was to reduce the expense of a classical education. Ideally, classical education is undertaken with a highly educated full-time personal tutor. Historically, this was available only to the most wealthy. Encyclopedias, public libraries and grammar schools are examples of innovations intended to lower the cost of a classical education.

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  1. "Tuition & Financial Aid" . Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  2. Zlatos, Bill (23 May 2013). "Competitors offer tips to Stanton Heights school startup". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  3. Id.
  4. King, Amanda (2 April 2013). "Democratic schools: A different perspective on education, but effective?". Voxxi. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  5. "FAQ | Three Rivers Village School". Three Rivers Village School. Retrieved 6 January 2016.