Why PFSJ?

Social Justice

At PFSJ, social justice is infused into every aspect of our school, from our governance structure to our curriculum.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Our school is built on the foundation of five Social Justice values: integrity, self-advocacy, allyship, activism, and critical consciousness.  Scholars learn about these from their first day and they are woven into all aspects of our culture.
  • Every class, from Algebra to Biology to Humanities, includes social justice connections and projects.  Scholars explore the ways that math has been used to oppress people, the biological underpinnings (or not!) of race, and the history of mass incarceration in America.
  • Students are members of our Board of Trustees, hiring committees for staff, Social Justice committee and other leadership bodies in the school.
  • We use a Restorative Justice model of discipline, combining traditional discipline (when needed) with opportunities to dialogue with other parties in a conflict, right wrongs, and educate the community about better approaches to issues.
  • We have specific Social Justice courses which help scholars learn about the underpinnings of social justice and activism.
  • We know that students can only learn and be their best when they feel safe and have their needs met.  We train our community in trauma sensitivity, make sure every scholar has an adult they feel safe talking to, and even run a food bank to make sure our scholars’ families have enough to eat.

Academic Excellence

PFSJ has college preparation as an integral part of its mission.  Although we recognize that some scholars may pursue other options after graduation, we offer strong academic rigor to make sure our scholars are fully prepared for college and work life.

  • We offer Dual Enrollment with Holyoke Community College; the majority of our seniors, as well as some sophomores and juniors, take courses there.  In fact, we have had scholars receive their high school diploma and their Associate’s Degree from HCC at the same time, and at no cost to the student!
  • Our teachers receive ongoing training in excellent teaching techniques to reach scholars with many different learning approaches and keep them engaged.
  • All scholars are encouraged to apply to college and are supported by our Guidance Counselor in the process of taking SATs, completing FAFSA and filling out strong college applications.  We recognize that many of our scholars will be the first in their family to attend college, and the unique nature of our Dual Enrollment program also makes the transition to college feel easier for these students.
  • We have partnered with Mass Insight to begin offering Advanced Placement courses, which will include A.P. Literature, A.P. Statistics and A.P. Biology.
  • Our scholars are encouraged to hone their organizational and leadership skills through offerings like our mandatory internship program, public speaking classes, performance opportunities with our arts and sports programs, student government, and opportunities to participate in regional and national conferences and meetings