Mission of PALS Enrichment Classes:
PALS is a secular, parent-run homeschool group for families with children ages 4 to 18. We are a diverse community that offers support and friendship, and draws on the strengths of participating parents and families. We welcome families with all learning styles, including cyber, traditional homeschoolers, unschoolers, or eclectic.
As a community, PALS relies on parental participation to maintain the quality of our programs. Parents teach, run clubs, plan events, and assist with other functional and administrative needs.
Enrichment classes are held on ten Wednesdays each term from 10:00 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. at Mifflin Avenue United Methodist Church in the Regent Square neighborhood of Pittsburgh. We have the use of multiple classrooms, clubroom/parent lounge and gymnasium/lunchroom. There is also a room available for young toddlers/infants who are accompanied by their parents or other adults.
For information on classes and registration, please see the menu items under the menu heading Enrichment Classes. Even after the term has started, many clubs and some classes may be open to new students. If you are new to us or to homeschooling and wish to see whether your child(ren) may join a class which is in progress, please contact Merry Demko, Board President at merrydPALS@gmail.com.
IMPORTANT REMINDER – CLEARANCES
Since PALS is an all-volunteer organization, please remember that under the recently passed law, all adults who will be attending PALS need to have obtained state-required clearances (as described on the CLEARANCES page) before they will be permitted to register for classes and before they or their children will be permitted to attend PALS classes.
We are an eclectic group of secular homeschoolers who run two 10-week sessions per year of enrichment classes, primarily taught by parents in our group. Classes are either one or two hours long – and students may register for as many (or as few) as they wish. A supervised club room with crafts (and legos) is available for students who have an empty slot where they do not find a class that interests them.
We also generally run a Share Fair at the end of each term for our students and Valentine’s Day and Halloween parties open to the entire homeschooling community. You can read more about our mission statement on our home page. We do not provide a drop-off program, instead for reasons both legal and philosophical, our role is to facilitate our parents in providing classes and support for each other.
Classes generally run from September to December and again from February to late April or early May. Specific dates (and class times) can be found on the menu under Calendar. The list of current classes can generally be found under the Class Registration link, midway down side menu. If you are curious about the kinds of classes we generally have, you can see several years worth of classes on the Past Sessions Page. You can also see photos of our students in classes on the Gallery page.
Our classes take place at Mifflin Avenue United Methodist Church, from whom we rent space during the day.
Registration is generally open for several weeks during January/February and August/September. You can see the dates on the Calendar page. Registration is open first to parents teaching classes and then to the rest of the community. Registration is done online using the class grid, following the procedure on the Registration Instructions Page. You can see your total under the account balance link at the top of the page. Payment is due on or before the first day of classes.
All parents attending PALS must provide us with clearances as required by the state of Pennsylvania. For more information, see the Clearances page.
All parents attending PALS must pay the Community Share Fee, which is paid per family and allows us to divides operating costs on a per family basis, regardless of number of children in the family. Class costs for each class are generally limited to materials fees, though in limited cases we provide space for independent contractors to provide classes to our community for a class fee.
All parents help in running the program by teaching, assisting, staffing the front door, cleaning-up, etc. Jobs are assigned at the beginning of each term and details regarding sign-up will be announced each term on our Facebook and via email.
Any parent who has attended at least one term may propose a class, using the form on the Class Proposal Form. (If you propose a class and have later changes, use the link on that page for the Proposal Amendment Form to send us the changes). Class Proposals can be submitted during the term – the earlier the better; we try to have the schedule for the following term largely set by the end of each term.
We communicate with the PALS community through the forum and emails on this webpage and through our Facebook.
If you are interested in joining PALS, you can see the Terms and Conditions here, which also provides a link to the rest of our policies. If you have questions which haven’t otherwise been answered, please contact our Board President or other board member, using the information on the Contact Page.
Starting Spring 2016 Term, families are not able to register for classes unless there is a copy of your clearances on file.
Since PALS is an all-volunteer organization, please remember that each and every adult that attends needs to have their Child Abuse Clearance and PA State Police Criminal Record Check. All links and information to get those clearances can be found athttp://dhs.pa.gov/publications/findaform/childabusehistoryclearanceforms/index.htm
If you have NOT lived in Pennsylvania for at least 10 years, you are also required to provide us with an FBI Criminal Background Check. If you have already obtained a FBI Criminal Background check since the time that you moved to Pennsylvania, you may provide us with a copy of that. If you have never obtained an FBI Criminal Background check, please use the link below for IDEMIA Fingerprinting Applicant Registration. ChooseDigital Fingerprinting and Enter the code 1KG6ZJ for DHS Volunteer. https://www.identogo.com/locations/pennsylvania
If you have lived in Pennsylvania for at least 10 years, you will sign a waiver on the first day of classes. Signing this waiver affirms that you have lived in PA for at least 10 years and have not been convicted of a felony or any crime that would preclude volunteering with children in the last 5 years.
Once you have received your clearances, email a pdf copy of them to firstname.lastname@example.org. They will be kept in strict confidentiality. Your privacy is our utmost concern. Any volunteer that has clearances on file with PALS does not need to submit another copy unless your clearances have expired. Clearances are good for 5 years, except the FBI Clearance Check, which you are not required to renew if you provide us with a written affirmation that you have lived continuously in Pennsylvania since you obtained the previous FBI Clearance Check and have not been convicted of a felony or any crime that would preclude volunteering with children since the date of your last FBI Clearance Check.
If you are not sure if PALS has a copy of your clearances, please contact Ann at email@example.com.