Sarah Schneider

Reporter

Sarah Schneider covers all things education in the Pittsburgh region and hosts Weekend Edition on Sunday. An Illinois native, she's spent two years adjusting to the hills of the city. Sarah was with WESA as a PULSE (Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience Fellow) fellow for two years working on community initiatives and the Life of Learning Series before becoming a staff reporter. 

Previously Sarah interned at newspapers in Pittsburgh, Idaho and Illinois. When not reporting and hosting you can find Sarah walking dogs at an animal shelter, crocheting and taking any unique class she can. 

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh collection

When Emily Eckel moved to Knoxville, a neighborhood south of downtown Pittsburgh, she was told to buy special subsidence insurance, just in case the abandoned coal mine beneath her house ever caved in. She'd never heard of it.

“I just started imagining this vast maze of coal mines under the city," she said. "I was picturing coal miners going in with a pickaxe or a shovel and a yellow canary and a cage and mining all day. I don’t know if it was like that, and I would like to know.” 

It was not exactly like that, at least not in Pittsburgh.

casey.senate.gov

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey said Thursday he has “serious concerns” about Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch and plans to vote against his confirmation.

Thursday marks the fourth and final day of confirmation hearings for Gorsuch. Congress is expected to vote Monday, April 3.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

On Saturdays, local teens take over the state-of-the-art recording studios on Carnegie Mellon University’s campus to lay down tracks about their lives and the people in them.

The program, Arts Greenhouse, started as a community project at the Center for the Arts in Society.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Donald Trump's budget plan, released Thursday morning, clarifies his spending priorities and calls for cuts in several departments, which local and state leaders said will negatively impact residents.  

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Bonnie Isaac held up a piece of cardstock with a leaf glued to it. It was a large-seeded-forget-me-not that was collected in 1995 in Greene County. The botanist said it was the first specimen found in Pennsylvania.

“We considered listing it as rare or endangered, but when we started looking around we thought there’s just too much of it out there so we decided not to list it,” she said. “But it’s a fairly new thing.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Last school year, Sto-Rox High School was on its fourth principal in nine years and teachers struggled to manage a disorderly student body.

The Sto-Rox School District, just west of Pittsburgh, serving 1,300 students from McKees Rocks and Stowe township, had spent years plagued by high turnover in leadership, leaving teachers stretched thin.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Deb Gross is leading a fundraising effort to buy lead-filtering water pitchers for families with young children.

She said the city could provide a countertop pitcher to each of Pittsburgh's estimated 25,000 households with a child under age 6 for less than $1 million. She said she hopes private foundations and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority will be able to allocate funding within a month.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak says she's planning to introduce legislation Tuesday to create a task force charged with finding funding for children otherwise unable to attend preschool.

Citing a 2016 Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers report, Rudiak said 1,500 Pittsburgh children do not have access to full-day preschool deemed "high quality" by the Pennsylvania Keystone STARS initiative. The standards evaluate programs for staff qualifications, curriculum, facility environment and community and family involvement, among other things. 

Gerry Broome / AP Photo

Updated: 1:53 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, 2017.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools District says it is committed to supporting transgender students and has not changed its nondiscrimination policy following the Trump administration’s move to rescind protections.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Fifth grader Jaylen Hocker popped up from his front row seat at the O’Reilly Theater. He walked onto the stage, held up a hand to block the bright theater lights from his eyes and waited for the OK from a panel of judges before he began. 

“He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies. And what’s his reason? I am a Jew," he said, reciting William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice."

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Recently, several of Renee Christman’s English as a second language students have asked her what the word “illegal” means.

Many of her students at Paynter Elementary School in Baldwin are refugees and she said they’re aware of President Donald Trump’s immigration orders and that their parents are concerned. Her students collectively speak eight languages and about 15 to 20 different languages are spoken in the Baldwin-Whitehall school district.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb on Thursday released a draft of the performance audit of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Thursday with 53 recommended changes.

The audit was concurrent with widespread customer billing and meter problems, issues of lead in drinking water and inconsistent leadership.

alamosbasement/ Flickr

The union representing Pittsburgh Public School teachers is offering resources explaining how they can help immigrant and refugee children whose families are at risk of deportation.  

Nina Esposito-Visgitis, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, said teachers have asked the union for ways they could support their students.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Jerry Kraynick bends at the waist, hands on hips, and peers over his glasses. He gestures towards a bike. “Throw it up on the stand, and I’ll look at it.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny County Housing Authority sold five homes in Penn Hills and three lots in Duquesne to the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity.

Frank Aggazio, Executive Director of the Allegheny County Housing Authority, said the partnership is a way to offer homeownership to low-income county residents who no longer need housing assistance. The county sold the five dilapidated properties and lots for $218,000.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Emmaline Thompson, 9, danced around the dining room table with her 3-year-old sister and the family’s pitbull as her mom prepared dinner. Her mom, Rebecca Maclean, gathered the kids and made them sit at the table to watch as Emmaline opened a letter from the Pittsburgh Public School District.

Leonidas Tsementzis / Flickr

Pennsylvania is one of two states without a cigar tax. A new report from the American Lung Association says that can have an effect on youth.

Last year, Pennsylvania lawmakers increased the cigarette tax by $1 per pack, chewing tobacco by 55 cents and electronic cigarettes by 40 cents. The legislature decided, again, to not add a cigar tax.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A group of 75 teachers, parents and administrators have finished reviewing options for a new literacy curriculum for Pittsburgh Public School Kindergarten through fifth grade students.

Just last month, Angela Allie joined Pittsburgh Public Schools as the Executive Director of Equity. A PPS graduate herself, Allie said she always knew she'd return to the district where she started her education. 

The Pittsburgh native formerly taught English at Oliver High School in the North Side and served most recently as principal of Propel’s Andrew Street High School in Munhall.

She said her focus has always been education justice for traditionally under-served students.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Gilman is not calling Pittsburgh a sanctuary city.

He referred to the term as a "buzzword" and said legislation he introduced to council Tuesday will impact families in a more profound way. 

Claire Black / Flickr

The Allegheny County Board of Health wants children to be regularly tested for lead poisoning.

The board is moving forward with a new rule that would mandate blood testing at 9 months and again at 2 years of age, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department, said children in that age range put things in their mouths, making them more susceptible to poisoning than adults.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Volunteers who rescue trapped mineworkers will soon have access to technology developed in Pittsburgh using seismic vibrations as a means of communication.

It was one of the technological advancements the Mine Safety and Health Administration touted Thursday at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Research Laboratory in South Park. Mine safety executives were there to highlight developments made during the past eight years under the administration of Joe Main, assistant secretary for MSHA.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

This is the second in a three-part web series looking ahead to 2017 with members of Pittsburg City Council. Find part one here.

Council members Deb Gross, Corey O’Connor and Daniel Lavelle represent three very different districts, but the issue of equitable development looms large for each of them. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

For the third straight year, the Pittsburgh Public School’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a general budget without a tax increase.

Gateway School District / Facebook

School police officers sworn into the Gateway School District were equipped with firearms for the first time after the district’s petition for an armed force was approved Tuesday. The district plans to have an armed officer at each of the district’s seven schools.

A similar petition was denied in September by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Timothy O’Reilly who said the school board did not think the decision through and officers did not have enough training. The school board is still appealing that verdict.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

First year medical student Aneta Kowalski knocked on the door of the classroom. Upon entering, she used sanitizer to clean her hands and introduced herself to the patient, Brandi Welle. 

Kowalski and Welle sat down and began to talk. Welle said that she was in a car accident four years ago. She was suffering from hip pain and was dependent on pain killers. But she also no longer has a prescription and had been dropped by several doctors for her dependency.

“I think I have a problem,” Welle told Kowalski. “I think I need some help." 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority is paying for what will be the third round of environmental testing of the former Civic Arena site.

Eugene Tanner / AP

Nathan Rosswog showed his eighth grade students a photo of his grandfather, a World War II veteran. The Urban Pathways Charter School teacher told them his grandfather wasn’t at Pearl Harbor, but shared stories of friends he knew who were at the naval base during the attack.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s acting Police Chief Scott Schubert assured a group gathered in Larimer Wednesday night that he would follow through with former chief Cameron McLay’s vision for the force in improving community relations.

“We can’t be successful out in the community if we don’t have the support of the public,” he said Wednesday.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Before heading to the practice field, Westinghouse High School football players met in a classroom, where Coach Monte Robinson read questions from a notecard about alcohol and sexual violence. He told them to be honest.

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