When we asked past and present students and parents to share their thoughts on Pioneer Day School and the Community School of San Diego, they had a lot to say. Take a moment to read a few of the responses below. If you would like to submit one of your own, you can click on the CONTACT US  page and leave it in the comments section.

Pioneer’s director and founder, Jim, met my son Ryan when he was 5 years old. My husband and I had be looking at schools for him for a while. We would take him to a classroom and he would immediately start taking things off of the wall. Teachers really didn’t appreciate that. He couldn’t sit still, he couldn’t focus, and couldn’t following directions that didn’t include his favorite activities. However, my husband and I knew he was incredibly bright. He was able to read and do double digit math. Ryan has autism and at the time, he was pretty much non-verbal. Ryan spent a day at Pioneer, and when I went to pick him up Jim greeted me with all that Ryan could do,  not what he couldn’t. That’s what Pioneer does, they see what their students can do and build on it. Ryan was the youngest student the school had. Pioneer created a program for him. He stood when couldn’t sit still, he took breaks riding in a wagon to the park, went on the swing when he lost focus, and he thrived. Ryan is now very verbal. He is aware of those around him and he wants to take part in the world. I attribute that to the teachers at Pioneer. Their love for what they do inspired me to become a Special Education teacher.

-Deborah Woo-Ming

My name is Joseph. I attended Pioneer Day School for five years and the organization changed my life. I was diagnosed with autism at the age of four, and the doctors kept telling my mother and father I would probably never attend a public school. I was in a private school and hoped they would help me adjust to a public school, but they did not. I went on to a different Middle School, but I just did not fit in. Then I made it to Pioneer Day School and met Jim Leiner. Jim and the Pioneer staff not only helped me with academics, but also worked on my maturity and growth as a human being. They taught me about proper class room adjustments I would have to make in order to attend a public school. I progressed every year I was at Pioneer. I was able to move on after my sophomore year in high school to attend a public High School. I was finally able to fit in a public school system. Not only did I attend a public high school, I graduated in one as well. I am now attending Mesa Community College and I would have never come this far without the tutelage from Pioneer Day School. I am forever grateful for what they have done for me.


Our son started attending Pioneer Day School in May 2011. What we admire about this school is that they concentrate on our son’s unique needs and think outside of the box to address those concerns for our family. I admire how the staff works as a team in accomplishing his goals. The staff is always very eager to work with our son and assist him in any way they can. I like how Jim has made the school a part of the community in Ocean Beach. One example is the Snack Shack they built in front of the school, which is helping the students work on many skills. I have found this school to be very positive, loving, caring and nurturing for our entire family. We feel blessed to have them in our lives.


How Pioneer Saved Our Son: I toured Pioneer Day School with my son Tristan who was 14 years old at the time, after he was being bullied at his previous school. It was the last day of summer school before vacation. The small size and community feel provided a sense of belonging. Tristan suffered more setbacks during the summer break and asked if he could call Jim Lenier despite meeting him once. It was still summer break, and a Sunday evening. Tristan called and left a message, and Jim returned the call right away. He talked to Tristan until he was excited about going to school. During his first year at Pioneer, the staff worked hard to undo all of the damage done at the previous school. Tristan started to like learning again and didn’t feel different anymore. His smile returned. He loves going to the beach for P.E. and learning life skills, as well as academics.Every staff member goes above and beyond to help each student. Tristan is in a place where he can reach whatever his potential is. Thank You Pioneer!

-Tom and Mindi