A Story to Tell

Have you ever sat at the red light on Fifth Avenue at the corner of South Negley in Shadyside? As you look straight ahead, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the majestical Cathedral of Learning. To your right sits the Third Presbyterian Church. Another beautiful and historical landmark to adorn the Pittsburgh landscape. You might also have noticed signage for the Kentucky Avenue School? We too are a landmark in the heart of Shadyside on the first floor of that beautiful church. Maybe not historical, yet, but we do have history. 

First there was the McEwan School which was founded in 1970, when the shift was a progressive approach towards education based on the philosophy that learning can be fun. When the McEwan School closed its doors, a group of dedicated people formed a committee to keep the school going. Letters were mailed to those former McEwan families asking them to not abandon ship. The school was in transition and needed the support of the community.

Two of those people who were instrumental in getting the doors to KAS opened remain a part of the KAS community. Ms. Sherry, KAS School Administrator, is the first person students and staff run to whenever there is an issue. Ms. Miriam, KAS Office Assistant/School Librarian, is the first person to greet you at the door in the mornings and the one who will always locate a great book to read. They are our historians to how the school began, along with countless others, who fought to keep a tiny school open on the sole purpose of empowering students both academically and socially.

In the fall of 2002, Kentucky Avenue School opened its doors to the community as a licensed K-8 independent progressive school. The curriculum, rooted in a constructivist philosophy and small classes, fosters both social and academic learning. Once it was a community school with the majority of students residing in close proximity to the school. Today we have students arriving on buses from Fox Chapel, Woodland Hills, Keystone Oaks, Penn Hills, North Allegheny and the City of Pittsburgh. Our reach might have extended, but the feeling of community that KAS was built on never changes. 

The history of KAS, like many schools, has evolved and grown over the years. Through all the changes that have occurred, one thing remains constant – our commitment to creating a strong, supportive KAS community with a curriculum that challenges students academically and is conveyed through both traditional and innovative methods. 

Smaller class sizes, individualized attention, and a sense of community, might be some of the reasons to attend an independent school. However, there is always the matter of cost which can be a major disadvantage. At KAS we offer ways to afford tuition, which many people do not know about. We provide financial aid, scholarships, and we participate in the EITC/OSTC tax credit funding. At KAS, we try our best to provide for every family seeking scholarships, this is where the generosity of our KAS community really helps to support the school and prospective families.

KAS operates because of the support of its community. For years the school cafeteria operated thanks to dedicated volunteers composed of parents and faculty. It is the parent and faculty volunteers who graciously dedicate themselves to helping to provide lunches, preparing food, helping serving food, and cleaning the kitchen. The parent volunteers who chaperone field trips, helping to drive students to and from, providing an extra set of eyes to the classroom teacher. It is the parents dedication to the PTO that provides the community gatherings, organizes fundraisers, orders school apparel, and is an extra set of nurturing hands for the school. 

It is the dedicated faculty and staff working together daily always looking for new and exciting ways to educate the students. The faculty and staff that builds relationships with every student, learning to understand each student’s social needs, strengthening their academic needs, while empowering them to meet the needs of society. It is a devoted faculty and staff always lending a hand both to the students and each other. Whether they are jumping in to cover each other’s classes when someone is sick or in an educational meeting, helping to console a student on the roughest of days, or teaming together and designing amazing learning experiences, the faculty and staff never stop thinking about the safety of each and every student.

And of course, it is the students. The students that no one is completely alike, each with their own strengths, interests, and needs. The students engaged in meaningful learning, helping to create a classroom environment where their interests matter, building on their own knowledge, and learning through others and the world around them. The students who continue to teach the faculty and staff daily. The students. The reason why the school exists. 

The next time you are sitting at the red light on the corner of Fifth and South Negley admiring the Tiffany stained glass windows, take a right and then another right onto Kentucky Avenue. 

There you will see the entrance to the KAS community, a landmark for 22 years in the heart of Shadyside with a history of its own and a story to tell. 

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