A lot happens during a day at PLC

PLC classes and one-on-one tutorials are offered on a variety of topics: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday between 9 and 3. PLC is closed on Wednesday. The schedule is a reflection of the interests of current teen members and the interests and expertise of our staff, volunteers, interns, and work-study university students. In addition, we support teen members to lead classes for their peers. Rather than attempt to fulfill any particular curriculum, we ask our teachers to share the topics that excite them.

Everything we do at PLC, including our classes and one-on-one tutorials are optional and open to every member; most are scheduled for one hour per week, with the option to meet more often if needed or desired.

A Selection of Classes at PLC


with Joel Hammon. A discussion based class on various topics in the news. We attempt to provide some historical context to the events that happen and understand the larger societal forces at play in shaping events and the news coverage of events. Students are encouraged to stay current with recent events and bring items to discuss each week.
with Laura Martin. In this class, we discuss the archaeology of Empires – in particular ancient warfare, imperial policy, the physical remains of the expansion of empires, and the socio-cultural repercussions of their growth. In conjunction, we discuss the methods and practice of archaeology – how do we actually reconstruct the past from physical remains?
with Joel Hammon. A general survey of United States history from Reconstruction through the end of WWII. Particular attention is paid to the history of social movements and various groups inside the United States, how larger global issues impacted US History and the role technology and geography played in US History.
with Andy Anastasopoulos. This class seeks to examine and understand the contributions of the societies that make up the “ Pillars of Western Civilization”. Who were The Greeks and the Romans? And what were their contributions?
with Alison Snieckus. A study of the big ideas in life science: cellular processes, genetics and information transfer, feedback processes, communities, and evolution, including substantial opportunity for hands-on lab-type activities. Participating students are encouraged to identify a particular area of interest related to life sciences, through which they can expand their understandings.
with Karen Glenister. We all know how important good mental health is but many factors in life can chip away at our mental health. Come to this class to try out some tools to build it up and strengthen your resilience, self esteem and overall well being.
with Scott Gallagher. This class gives participants a chance to learn about a wide range of professions and careers through conversations with local community members. Each week we invite a successful member of the community to have an informal lunch conversation that covers what they do in their professional life, their educational background and the habits, routines and mindsets that they feel help them to be successful. Often these conversations lead to shadowing, volunteering or work opportunities for class participants.
with Karen Glenister. Come and discover the wonderful world of psychology. Through these classes you get to know about different branches of psychology such as social, clinical and criminal psychology. We talk about some of the pioneers of modern psychology such as Freud, Jung and Beck, and also explore some famous experiments and discuss the many ways psychology can teach us about the human mind and behaviour. Between class reading and videos help you get the most out of this class.
with Scott (PLC member). Join and learn about some of European and American history’s greatest warriors, military leaders, and martial art teachers, many of whom shaped the world as we know it. In this class we go over weaponry, specific figures, eras, and the rise and fall of some of the most notable military powerhouses in all of history.
with Valentina Meuren. In this class we look at German language within a cultural context. Our focus is on improvement of basic oral fluency in different communicative contexts: narratives of situations, events and expressing personal preferences in German. Active and creative communication skills with focus on oral communication in a variety of everyday situations are supported through basic grammar introduction.
with Rae Perez. An introduction to American Sign Language, starting with basic skills such as fingerspelling and gradually moving on to some conversational signing. We also learn a bit about Deaf culture. Our pace and topics depend on what the students want to learn and how quickly they pick up the material.


with Jim Manganaro. In this class, we explore a range of interesting questions underlying basic physics via discussion as well as simple hands-on activities. We begin with concepts in mechanics and also investigate the physics in areas that are of particular interest to the students in the class.
with Patti Hart.
“The way to entice people into cooking is to cook delicious things.” – Yotam Ottolenghi, London Chef, Author of Plenty

Our focus is to prepare food to be shared at Collection (all-group meeting), which directly follows this class. We create many delicious breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts from many parts of the world. Throughout the year we discuss and practice general food safety methods, proper safety, handling, and maintenance of knives and other cooking ware, and various cooking and baking techniques. Each week we collaborate in planning and getting the supplies for the upcoming meals and then do the cooking and/or baking for that week’s offering.

with Scott Gallagher This class is meant to give members an opportunity to engage in the “big questions” of life. What is truth? What is beauty? What role does god play in our lives? We wrestle with ethics and aesthetics. We predominantly use youtube (The School of Life, Philosophy Tube, etc) as our texts, but also refer to Sophie’s World, a novel about the history of philosophy. We also look into specific philosophers and their positions on these big questions of life.
An all-group meeting to check in with the community, talk about any shared concerns or significant matters and plan for upcoming events and activities. All members are encouraged to attend.
with Suzanne Kaplan. Together we explore the Spanish language by discussing topics of interest, reading magazine articles and books, listening to music, watching videos, and creating our own writing, as well as other activities. Each week we review and expand our use of basic grammar and vocabulary.
with Jack Firneno. This is a chance for musicians to get together and make some music as a group. Led by Scott Gallagher on guitar and Jack Firneno on drums, this weekly jam session is open to all instrumentalists and singers at PLC.
with Dan Thompson. In this class we use the programming language Python to learn the basics of programming. Python is a general purpose, high level programming language, and borrows elements from older languages such as Fortran, C, C++, and Java. However, because Python uses common words, the Code is readable and easy to learn.

This class proceeds at whctever speed is appropriate. So – don’t be afraid, come and learn to program!

Students will require access to a computer (a laptop would be best), and a basic understanding of mathematics. No previous programming experience is necessary. Python is open-source software and can be downloaded from the Internet free, for any type of computer.

with Dennis Quinn. This class exposes students to the structure and goals of businesses, their various internal functions (marketing, human resources, manufacturing, etc.), and the financial markets that support them. Additionally, we explore job market opportunities, life skills development, and lessons in personal finance.
with Bryan (PLC member). In this class we explore truths and myths about the world. We look at myths of the sea, the land and space to expose either the reality or the fiction.
with Michael Simon. A class focusing on different civilizations, eras, and events throughout the history of the world. While we study civilizations from all over the world, there is an emphasis on non-European civilizations and societies which often have less representation in more traditional schools. However, the subjects for each class evolve depending on the students’ particular interests.
with Katy Burke. In this class we travel the globe through film. We view foreign films from a variety of countries as well as independent American films and maybe even a Hollywood film or two for good measure. We study the films as text, analyzing symbols, character development, cinematography, plot structure and so on. The hope is that by appreciating and understanding the films from different countries, we come to a better understanding and deeper appreciation of the cultures themselves.


with Rodney Richards. Good writing must be believable and direct to make the points intended by the writer. Business writing is technical writing usually meant to persuade not just to inform. In this class we work on the craft and skills needed to present clear, well thought-out and organized ideas and arguments for both types of writing. We aim for students to develop precise and active language in their assignments and projects. Elements of student writing include a bio, resume, business letter, and report, and multiples thereof, and essays for public presentation or submission.
with Katy Burke. In this class we meet once a week to share stories! The stories we love say an awful lot about us. Each week one person shares a story that they love either by reading it, telling it, viewing it or some other creative way. These may be myths, fairytales, childhood stories, family legends, self-created stories, etc. After sharing, we discuss the story and unlock it’s secrets. All stories have secrets; it’s a matter of knowing where to look.
with Alison Snieckus. Data and Stats is an introduction to the major concepts, logic, and issues in statistical reasoning and to the tools involved in collecting, analyzing and drawing conclusions from data. We study how to explore data using stat programs and spreadsheets, plan one or more surveys/experiments, study probability and how it relates to patterns, and try out statistical Inference. Class members work collaboratively to identify questions, to find/create useful data, to determine and implement data analyses and to draw conclusions.
with Scott Gallagher. In this class, we find, name, learn more about, discuss and analyze some of the big problems in the world, our country, and in our own community. With this new sense of understanding and perspective, we look to do something! — to analyze our role in the bigger picture, and what we can do as individuals and as a group to mitigate and spread awareness about these issues.
with Katy Burke. In this class, we unlock the power of words. It is for those interested in self-expression through wordsmithing. We look to the inspiring words of poets, songwriters, and orators to teach us. We begin each class with a short writing exercise in which we play with the meaning and sounds of words. Each week, we find (or create!) poetic pieces we love, share, discuss and learn from them.
with Rob Ambrogi. In this class we facilitate learners’ pursuit of basic chemistry principles, facts and concepts, as well as scientific processes, habits of thought and basic lab skills. We often work with everyday applications of chemistry to bring the subject to life and to provide a lens through which learners can become well-informed citizens with respect to issues that are impacted by chemistry.
with Katy Burke. Writers’ Workshop is for those who love writing, for those who fear it and everyone in between. This is where you can get feedback, tips and pointers for whatever writing assignment you are currently working on. Any kind of writing is open for discussion whether it’s a blog post, a column in a PLC newsletter, a college admissions essay, a film script, an essay to get to the root of a philosophical question that has been plaguing you, promotional material for your new business, or a letter to your grandma. Attend as needed, and please have the piece you are working on typed up in a Google document, ready to share.
with Bryan (PLC member). For this class we select various hollywood or documentary films centered on historical topics. A brief historical overview of the topic is given, followed by a screening of the film. The class then discusses the film paying particular attention to the historical accuracy, the quality of the film making and significant issues raised in the film.
with Rob Ambrogi. In this class we facilitate learners’ pursuit of basic photographic tools and concepts including visual composition, depth of field, contrast, color, shutter speed, etc. We explore various uses of photography: story telling, photo essays, artistic expression, documentation of events and processes, portraiture, multi-media presentations, calls to action, etc.
On Thursdays from 2-3pm we run classes that are more flexible in length, e.g., a one-time class on sculpting with polymer clay, a 3-week class on learning to juggle, or a 6-week class on finding your path.


At PLC we believe that getting out in to the world should be part a young person’s education. With that in mind, we schedule trips to various locations on Fridays, such as museums, tours of restaurants, businesses, and farms, local artisans, and hikes in local natural areas. PLC members interested to lead a trip work with their mentor to plan and communicate about the outing.
with Carson (PLC member). Comic Book Club is a group where we discuss graphic novels or comics. We analyze a new comic each week, which the group picks. Sometimes we may watch movies related to said comics or just discuss them.
with Scott Gallagher. The games we play have no winner. Everyone wins when we play the games well. Everyone wins when we go with moment and let whatever happens happen. Everyone wins when we pay attention to ourselves and to others. The purpose of this class is to say “yes, and” and to have fun being yourself.
with Arielle Debira. Let the garden be your playground, your classroom and your laboratory all rolled into one! Learn how to build a garden from scratch, considering both the technical and the design elements. Choose the herbs, flowers and vegetables you want to grow and explore each step of the process from cultivation to harvest to preserving. And that’s just in the garden! Out of the garden we can use plant material to create crafts, gifts, art, and more! Come see what makes the art and science of working with plants so exciting, inspiring and healing.
with Jack (PLC member). In this class we go for hikes in the woods behind PLC or on nearby hiking trails. The goal for this class is to help people be more active and to better appreciate nature.
with Sam and Miles (PLC members). Music Appreciation is a drop-in class where the attendees share songs for different topics (e.g., songs that remind you of snowfall) and then we listen to the songs people bring in, discuss our thoughts, and break down the different components, such as lyrics and production.
with Alison Snieckus. We use our time together to work on technical projects that people are interested in, e.g., building Lego Mindstorm robots, creating a website, or setting up a Linux dual boot on a computer
with Katy Burke. We knit, crochet, and embroider together as we listen to tunes from past to present. Whether you have never picked up a needle in your life or you have been knitting all your life, you can get something out of this class. We offer brief lessons, projects for inspiration and one-on-one help for those who need it.
with Joel Hammon. This class is about the philosophy, tips and techniques to help us improve our lives. It includes:

  • Figuring out how to be your best self and then making sure that happens
  • Doing the things you want to do in life and making those a priority over everything else
  • Overcoming the things that get in your way
  • Getting the support of a group of caring people to help you be more awesomer and giving that support to others
with Scott Gallagher. Class participants produce an annual yearbook documenting the people and places of PLC. We record the daily goings-on around PLC as well as trips and special events. Depending on the interest and skills of class members, they may work on writing and editing text, taking/editing photos or video, designing layouts, interviewing PLC members or volunteers or whatever tasks are required.

At PLC we work with each teen member as an individual, building on strengths to create a meaningful and positive experience while also preparing for each person’s next steps. Teen members work closely with their mentors to determine their own ideal schedule, creating a combination of group classes and one-on-one tutoring sessions.

Many PLC members work with tutors individually to study a topic. Members who wish to study math and writing often do so with a tutor, who can tailor the study to that particular person’s needs.

The format of individual classes can vary significantly, depending on the vision of the leader as well as the input of the participants. Some classes will ask for and expect a considerable amount of work to happen outside of class time while others will be more limited. This is made clear in the class description and by the teacher and should be taken into consideration by the student deciding to join the group.

We encourage all PLC members to learn about and try as many classes as they can. Once a member decides to be a regular participant of a class, we expect commitment. There are no grades or punishments, but we expect class participants to communicate with the teacher regarding attendance and other issues and to fulfill any requirements such as readings, research, or other assignments.

Members may choose to participate in an early college program with their local community college or take on an internship, volunteer work, or paid work as part of their learning experience.

Want a More Flexible Approach?

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Watercolor apples painted in Art class.

Hunting salamander larva in Nature class.