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Three Rivers Village School

Type of School: Private
134 E Elizabeth St, Pittsburgh, PA 15207-1650
Fax: 412-927-0999
City or Area From: Pittsburgh South Side
County: Allegheny County

The mission of Three Rivers Village School is to operate a school where the human tendency to self-actualize is trusted and students balance autonomy with responsibility for themselves and the school community. Students learn vital skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and self regulation through play, experimentation, and self-motivated activities. 

We are Pittsburgh’s only democratically run school, inspired by the Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts, est. 1968. 

Students have real freedom coupled with real responsibility in both individual pursuits and within the school community. 

TRVS trusts the human, not curriculum or test scores. 

Each student spends the vast majority of their day doing self determined activities and spending time with people they choose. We do not separate kids by age or ability. Our mixed age environment allows students to make friends and engage in activities based on interests and personalities. Sometimes that activity is creative, like arts and crafts or imaginary play. Sometimes it is kinetic, such as taking a long walk on the trail in the woods or playing zombie tag outdoors. Sometimes the activities are online like Minecraft with friends, creating an OC on Procreate software, or watching lots of Youtube videos about snakes. The list is practically endless. This is known more commonly as Self-Directed Education. It is the freedom for students to direct their time, attention, and interests in whatever direction they choose and for as long as they choose. Kids who have the opportunity to self-direct are being sent the message that they are trusted and capable. Students at TRVS can self-direct within the bounds of safety and community standards set by the school community itself. 

Our democratic structure gives students a real voice in the operation of the school and shape of the school culture. The weekly School Meeting is where decisions about money expenditures, school rules, and many other operations of the school are managed. This meeting is run in an orderly fashion informed by parliamentary procedure. Each student and staff member has one equal vote. Every student has the opportunity to practice civic engagement in this scaled down version of direct democracy.

Real freedom. Real responsibility.

Trusting a child’s innate drive to learn and grow outside of the construct of state curriculum is a radical but necessary approach to the future of education.

TRVS admits students without regard to race, religion, citizenship, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, or national and ethnic origin. TRVS is primarily tuition funded and is committed to creating a workable financial plan for the family of every child who wants to attend.

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