Education

We cover how our residents are growing and learning, starting from pre-K, through higher education, and beyond, into adulthood. 

Pittsburgh Public Schools / http://discoverpps.org/westinghouse

Middle and high school students from the Wilkinsburg Public School District could be going to Pittsburgh schools next year. 

In a joint move Wednesday night, the Wilkinsburg district announced it will close its grades 7-12 school building and send those 200-plus students to Westinghouse 6-12 next year.  The plan is still pending approval next month by the boards of both districts.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

One school of thought in adapting to a new generation of learners is to take students out of traditional classrooms where desks point toward an instructor.

To do that, educators create a maker space where students can explore and question content.

Libraries use maker spaces, the Carnegie Science Center has a new digital fabrication lab, and Mayor Bill Peduto held a roundtable discussion on the importance of them. Entrepreneurs use them to collaborate and have access to materials they otherwise couldn’t afford on their own.

Robert Morris University is getting a new president from Virginia.

Trustees have announced Christopher Howard will become the school's eighth president Feb. 1. He has served as president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia since 2009.

90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane has announced she will let her contract expire in June 2016 and will not seek an extension. Lane first served as deputy superintendent and spent the last five years in her current role.

University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development

  Twenty Pittsburgh Public Schools welcomed hordes of excited and apprehensive kindergartners on Thursday with Freddy the Frog, a green frog mascot representing the district's readiness program.

“We make a big celebration for the kindergarten children coming in for the first time and for their parents,” said Carole Barone-Martin, Pittsburgh Public's executive director of early childhood education.

Photo: MoD/MOD / Wikimedia Commons

Pennsylvania law requires school districts train teachers and other staff members to report suspected child abuse, but those laws don't cover every aspect of the growing danger involved with potentially improper contact between district employees and the students they're charged to teach.

“Pennsylvania does not have, at this time, a state law which mandates school district have policies regarding electronic communications.  Many states do,” said Ira Weiss, Pittsburgh Public Schools solicitor.

Vox Efx / flickr

Hearing about incidents of student-teacher fraternization does not surprise David Campbell, a 40-year veteran of teaching.

“[I]t’s the natural kind of thing that happens in every institution I’ve been in,” Campbell said.

Summer Dreamers Academy

Pittsburgh Public Schools Summer Dreamers Academy is one of four programs in the U.S. to win the 2015 New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award. Given by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), the awards aim to highlight best practices in educational summer programs.

“Research suggests that high quality summer learning programs can really make an impact socially, emotionally and academically in the lives of low-income students,” said Dara Murray, manager of program quality with NSLA.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Two men rob a convenience store in Beaver County, killing the clerk in the process. They steal a car and head to Raccoon Creek State Park, where they open fire on beach-goers with automatic rifles.

This was the imaginary scenario that criminal justice and nursing students from Pittsburgh Technical Institute encountered Wednesday morning at a live disaster response exercise staged on park shores.

Five of the nine Pennsylvania schools that will receive federal School Improvement Grants are in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system, the state Department of Education announced Tuesday.

On one hand, it’s great news, because it means $7.3 million in additional funding is coming to PPS over the next five years. On the other hand, it means five of the lowest-achieving schools in the state that have not made substantial progress on state assessments are located in Pittsburgh.

PA School Districts Brace For Prolonged State Budget Battle

Aug 26, 2015
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The school year is soon to begin, and districts across the state of Pennsylvania are faced with a troubling proposition: How do you stay afloat when a very large chunk of your budget is nonexistent?

UPDATE: Tuesday 8/25/15

Early Tuesday morning the teacher's union called off the strike after a tentative contract agreement was reached. 

“We are happy to have been able to reach a responsible agreement together with the BVAEA (Belle Vernon Area Education Association). We have a responsibility to the taxpayers and citizens of the Belle Vernon Area School District,” said School Board President Aaron J. Bialon.
 

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

It's the last week of the Learn and Earn program, and Anthony Zabiegalski, a producer at Simcoach Games, is prepping his 26 interns to test out a video game they helped build. Over the last six weeks, the interns have worked alongside developers and designers.

90.5 WESA

It’s back-to-school time in the region, and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, better known as ALCOSAN, is highlighting its role in the classroom.

The sewage and water treatment facility isn’t something automatically linked with schools, but for more than a decade, the authority has done educational outreach.

courtesy A+ Schools

Rigorous course offerings and positive reinforcement for hard work creates a more healthy, successful school environment, according to Amy Scott, director of research and data analysis for A+ Schools.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools advocacy group released a report this week detailing its findings of what leads to a positive school climate. Scott said the group has trained volunteers to interview school staff members who remain anonymous since 2009. The interview data is compiled and a report released yearly.

Number Of PA Students Opting Out Of State Tests Rises Dramatically In 2015

Aug 13, 2015
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

In a sign that the opt-out movement continues to grow, the number of elementary school students who refused to take Pennsylvania's state standardized tests rose dramatically over the past two years.

Between 2013-14 and 2014-15, opt-outs on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment math test more than tripled – from 1,017 students to 3,270. That's a 220 percent jump.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

  On second pass, 4-year-old Neyra Mesic was ready.

“I want a worm,” Mesic said, pulling her thumb from her mouth. She tugged on teacher Wendy Brenneman’s red canvas blouse. “I can do it now.”

Brenneman set a wriggly, brown garden worm on a damp paper towel next to Mesic. Like all the preschoolers attending summer camp Wednesday at the Carnegie Science Center, Brenneman warned her, “We like worms; be gentle.”

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

In two years, Pittsburgh’s Woolslair Elementary has gone from the verge of closure to one of the cornerstones of the district’s new STEAM initiative. Woolslair will become a partial magnet school focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

Just four miles from its previous location, the Career Training Academy (CTA) on Friday officially celebrates its newer and larger North Hills campus in the West View Shopping Plaza.

The previous campus operated within  Northway Mall since 1996. Classes there ended April 23 and began in West View four days later.

“We have the space to expand, we want to expand, currently we’re offering three programs here: massage therapy, medical assisting, and medical billing, and we offer diploma and degrees in all of those programs,” said Carla Ryba, campus director of the new facility.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

The struggle between Israelis and Palestinians continues to make daily headlines. But in one of Israel’s oldest cities, Arabs and Jews are coming together to start a project that has its origin in Pittsburgh — Manchester Bidwell Corporation arts and jobs training model.

A Pennsylvania law in effect last month mandates that state-related or state-owned institutions of higher learning must offer in-state tuition to active-duty military, veterans and their dependents even if they don't reside in Pennsylvania.

The Community College of Allegheny County is hosting an open house for those directly affected by the change from 2 to 7 p.m. at all four of its campuses Thursday to showcase how the college can work with these families. 

PA Attracts College Students, But Getting Them To Stay After Graduation Is A Challenge

Aug 4, 2015
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Across the state, students are wrapping up internships and summer jobs, signing up for fall classes and preparing for another school year at one of Pennsylvania's 200+ colleges and universities.

But once they graduate, how many of those students will stay in the area where they were educated?

PA Early Childhood Programs Stretched To Financial Limit, Study Finds

Jul 30, 2015
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Common sense might suggest that the best early childhood programs would do better financially.

But a new study finds that providers in Southeastern Pennsylvania have little fiscal incentive to reach for high quality.

A Nonprofit Finance Fund study of nearly 150 early-care and education programs in the Philadelphia area found that all of them – no matter their quality rating – operate on razor-thin margins.

Flickr user matt.farina

Andreas Beck has heard it all. Everyone has a great idea for a website.

Beck, executive board member of Drupal Camp PA, said the camp he helps organize, which teaches people how to use the open-source programming software Drupal, can help almost anyone with basic computer skills build a website.

The two-day camp will be held at the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Systems this Saturday and Sunday. The conference includes speeches from developers and training sessions geared toward everyone from beginners to advanced users.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

This week, game designers, developers and educators gathered at Carnegie Mellon University for the Serious Play Conference, where the focus was on "serious” gaming, or games used for training and teaching.

Pittsburgh-based game designer Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games, demonstrated his company’s award-winning game "Water Bears."

More than 100 Pittsburgh students toured the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory in South Park on Friday to talk to experts about science, technology, engineering and math careers.

The lab was one of four in the country selected to host the event as part of President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which challenges cities to focus on programming for at-risk youth.

Friday marks the public kickoff for a new program assisting children with communication disorders in Western Pennsylvania.

Variety the Children’s Charity’s “My Voice” program will select up to 20 children to receive iPads with apps specifically tailored to their needs as prescribed by their individual speech language pathologists.

Adjunct faculty at the Community College of Allegheny County voted to join their full-time colleagues as members of the American Federation of Teachers on Tuesday.

“Being able to negotiate a living wage for ourselves was obviously the number one issue,” said adjunct art professor Gene Marsh, “and some other issues relating to benefits or access to full-time positions as they open up.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Promise stewards announced Tuesday they plan to drop the scholarship's maximum four-year award from $40,000 to $30,000 beginning with the class of 2017.

CCAC North Library

Dwight Boddorf thought he was going to make a career out of the military. But when he was medically discharged after an encounter with an improvised explosive device in Iraq, he said he wanted to switch gears and move as far away from the military as possible.

He now works in education as the director of military and veterans services at the Community College of Allegheny County.

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