About Us

Three Rivers Village School is an  independent alternative school in Pittsburgh, PA, serving youth ages 5-19.

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. This mission is supported by the following commitments:

  1. Students have ample opportunity for full ownership of their education; they choose how to spend their time at school beyond their community obligations.
  2. Students have access to materials and community resources.
  3. Students experience freedom of association; the school does not separate students by age or ability.
  4. Students are free from mandatory curriculum and mandatory academic testing.
  5. The school is governed by rule of law and students experience due process.
  6. Responsibility for operating and governing the school is shared by students, staff, the Board of Trustees, and the Firefly Fellowship.
  7. Students and staff manage day-to-day operations through democratic processes and each person has an equal vote.
  8. Tuition is affordable for families of a variety of economic backgrounds.
  9. School staff dependably steward the program’s facilities, finances, and business; facilitate student access to resources; exemplify mature practice of personal fulfillment and community engagement; and anchor school culture to values of interpersonal respect and trust in the natural impulse to self-actualize.
  10. Students, staff, and the Board of Trustees are obligated to help promote the general welfare of the school, through actions that contribute to maintaining a culture of freedom, safety, respect, fairness, trust, and order.
  11. The school welcomes families of all compositions.
  12. Students, staff, and the Board of Trustees promote a culture that challenges racism and other forms of institutional and interpersonal oppression.

Read on for a more detailed description of the school.


There are no required classes, books, tests, or homework. TRVS trusts that children learn best when driven by internal motivation, following their own rhythm and path. Students can pursue any safe activity that does not infringe on the safety or freedom of other people including activities beyond the walls of our building.

Staff members are excellent adult role models. They have responsible, intentional relationships with all school members. When they have time, they follow their own passions and students are invited to join in. Staff are not expected to know all things that students want to learn about. Staff ensure the basic operations of the school.

There is abundant age-mixing. Children grow through observation and experimentation with all ages at TRVS. Free association among all ages lets relationships develop based on passions, personalities, and circumstance.


The school meeting, composed of all staff and students, is the primary governing body for day-to-day operations at the school. The school meeting establishes nearly all rules. Each member of the school meeting has one vote.

School meeting empowers a justice committee to investigate written reports of rule-breaking. The committee is composed of 4 people of varying ages, including one staff member. By majority vote, the JC decides on an appropriate course of action to resolve the issue for the benefit of all. Mediation is available for interpersonal conflicts.


The mission and program of Three Rivers Village School have been inspired by the Sudbury Valley School of Framingham, MA, The Circle School of Harrisburg, PA, and The Free School of Albany, NY.


Students are admitted if they, their family, and the admissions committee believe they will thrive. The school seeks a student body that reflects the diversity of our city in terms of socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and other measures.

The school is primarily tuition funded. TRVS is committed to creating a workable financial plan for the family of every child who wants to attend. For full information about enrolling, see our admissions page.

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