Two Schools, One Mission: Provident Charter Schools

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Editor’s note: Unlike Philadelphia, the Pittsburgh area has only a few schools dedicated exclusively to serving students with dyslexia. In this article, a teacher at one of these Pittsburgh schools describes its program and impact.

By Kaitlyn Hoover

March 8, 2024


For students with language-based learning differences such as dyslexia, Provident Charter Schools provide a well-rounded education using multisensory instructional methods. They also provide students with unique opportunities to experience learning while highlighting their strengths through extracurricular activities. Provident Charter Schools (PCS) are the only schools of their kind in southwestern Pennsylvania. The first Provident Charter School, now PCS Central, opened in 2016 in Troy Hill, in the North Side region of Pittsburgh, and is chartered under the Pittsburgh Public Schools. In 2023, PCS West opened its doors in Baden, a suburb about 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, and is chartered under the Ambridge Area School District. Although there are two schools, there is still only one mission. 

As a Special Education Teacher at PCS Central since 2016, I have watched its students thrive and become confident, independent learners. I have observed a number of students enter our classrooms with their heads hanging low, their frustration and negative energy towards school visible and palpable. They lacked confidence and felt like they had already failed. I can also say that I have seen these same students leave in seventh or eighth grade, and the transformation was profound. They left ready to take on the next adventure. Margarita Hornung, a parent of a former PCS Central student stated, “I am immensely grateful for the dedicated efforts of the teachers and staff at Provident Charter School; they helped my son achieve his reading goals. The supportive environment and personalized approach to addressing his needs have truly made a positive impact on his academic journey.” Having had the honor of working with this student for two years, I had a very personal, close-up view of the transformation in his reading. One of the highlights of my time at Provident was the moment his mom told me he had picked up a book to read for pleasure.

This transformation and others we see do not occur overnight. Provident Charter Schools have designed the school day to meet the needs of all their students. Students work in small groups consisting of two teachers and 12 students. While the school day is slightly longer than it is in most schools, no homework is given until the fifth grade. Provident Charter Schools deliver daily reading intervention by teachers certified in the Wilson Reading System or certified as Orton-Gillingham Practitioners. Every student has a reading intervention time built into their schedule; this allows students to receive forty-five minutes to an hour of remediation without being pulled out of instruction in another subject. 

Provident Charter Schools also provide students with a variety of opportunities to showcase their strengths. In addition to traditional Music, Art, PE, Computer Science and Digital Media classes, students may take TaeKwonDo. In this unique in-school class, students meet once in a six-day cycle to learn different TaeKwonDo movements and patterns. They also learn self-defense and conflict resolution techniques. Students who display perseverance, compassion and self-control may join Team Storm, where they perform TaeKwonDo demonstrations and earn symbolic TaeKwonDo belts as they progress. Taekwondo at PCS has helped students learn self-discipline, develop confidence, experience success and demonstrate growth as they learn new and more complex patterns.

Another opportunity at PCS Central is the Design to Make a Difference engineering program and competition where students learn crucial critical thinking and problem solving skills using a Markerspace, or collaborative workspace. The Makerspace facilitator at PCS Central, Amrit Moore, and several other teachers help students identify a problem, create a plan to solve the problem, and then build a working prototype with a positive impact. In 2023, the fourth and fifth grade team designed a series of pea-shaped pouches containing a variety of fidgets to help students at PCS with their focus, or attention and self-regulation. They presented their designs at a showcase with other schools. Mayah El-Dehaibi, one of the teachers leading this club, stated: “We have seen the spark of excitement and possibility in the eyes of a student who has previously been led to believe that school can’t be fun. Our students hold true ownership over their idea, from the brainstorming to the sketches to the prototype and presentation in front of judges. Project-based learning holds a new meaning with this friendly competition!”

Provident Charter Schools Central and West provide students with experiential or project based learning opportunities, reading remediation within a rigorous, standards-based curriculum, a chance to participate in unique opportunities, and a loving support system led by teachers who prioritize relationships. PCS changes the trajectory for students; self-esteem and hope for the future are gained once our students learn to read and then have the confidence to explore opportunities that reveal strengths they never knew they had.


Kaitlyn Hoover has been a Special Education teacher for ten years and has taught at the Provident Charter School since its opening eight years ago.

The Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association is pleased to present a forum for information to benefit its constituents. It is IDA’s policy to not recommend or endorse any specific program, product, institution, company, or instructional material, noting that there are a number of such that present the critical components of instruction as defined by IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading. Any program, product, institution, company, or instructional material carrying the IDA Accredited seal meets the IDA Standards.