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. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About 300 people marched from Homewood to North Point Breeze Saturday afternoon led by black activists and followed by white allies. 

The peaceful march organized by a group of black women and femmes intentionally prioritized the needs and voices of black attendees. All intersections of the black community including physical ability and sexual orientation and identity were welcomed as well as white allies. Organizer Deaja Baker said it was a chance to uplift the black communities.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Officials with the Ellis School, a private all-girls preparatory school in Shadyside, said their decision to switch cleaning contractors earlier this month was because of performance issues, not wages, as the union representing the school’s former cleaners has suggested.

Google Maps

The United Steelworkers will no longer represent workers of a local cleaning company that are assigned to the Ellis School.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Darrell Pullie is standing on a film set between the camera and actors holding a clapperboard, the black and white object you see in film outtakes that mark the start of a new scene or take.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf touted the work of a Pittsburgh cellular technology company during a Monday stop on his "Jobs That Pay" tour, saying it was an example of why investing in education is good for the economy.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Many colleges send incoming students a copy of the same book, or common reader, in the summer. The idea is to give students a shared experience before coming to campus.

Some schools send books to just freshmen and incorporate the themes of the text into orientation. Others expect the entire campus to read the book.

In Pittsburgh, only two universities have common read programs.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The environmental engineer who worked to expose the Flint lead crisis in 2014 said Pittsburgh’s drinking water lead levels are higher than the Michigan city, but he’s encouraged by downward trends.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A few dozen protesters gathered outside of Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai’s McCandless office Tuesday, calling on the Republican representative to balance the budget by taxing natural gas and corporations.

Pine Township resident Linda Bishop led a small group of constituents into the office with a list of concerns. Others representing SEIU unions, the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network and Fight for $15, stayed outside chanting for more funding for education and fewer tax cuts to corporations.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Asia Parker wants to be a mathematics professor.

“Math is just amazing. You can do anything,” she said.

Parker, 17 from Carrick, waited in a Duquesne University laboratory near a kiln heating materials she was using in semi-conductor experiments. Semi-conductors are often used in computers and solar panels. The high school senior wants to make new compounds for Jennifer Aitken’s research, which is looking at shifting the wavelength of lasers.

Elaine Thompson / AP, file

The attorney representing three former students who sued the Pine-Richland School District says the parties are expected to sign a settlement in the next few days.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, with New York-based Lambda Legal which advocates for LGBTQIA rights, declined to comment on the terms of the settlement until then.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Six Pittsburgh students are spending their summer learning about the plants and animals in Frick Park and how to protect them with erosion control and managing invasive species. 

Students working in the Young Naturalist program don’t typically have access to nature. 

90.5 WESA’s Sarah Schneider spoke with Taiji Nelson, a naturalist educator with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, about teaching kids to be park stewards. 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

After a three-year search, the board of the August Wilson Center For African American Culture named its new president and CEO Thursday. Janis Burley Wilson, who is not related to the center’s namesake, has overseen programming at the center since the Cultural Trust took over temporary operation two years ago.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Burley Wilson’s hire means the conversation is no longer about saving the center, named after Pittsburgh Playwright August Wilson. 

Alex Popichak / 90.5 WESA

In 1892, the country’s largest trade union, the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, took on the world’s largest manufacturing firm, the Carnegie Steel Corporation. Carnegie’s plant manager Henry Clay Frick increased production demands, but refused to increase wages. Frick eventually locked workers out of the facility spurring a strike.

Only about a fifth of the workers at the Homestead Works Steel Mill were skilled workers represented by the union. But the nearly 3,000 workers agreed to strike for better wages and working conditions.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The contract for nearly 3,000 Pittsburgh Public School Teachers and paraprofessionals expired Friday. Negotiations began in the fall between the district and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.

Union president Nina Esposito-Visgitis said she’s disappointed, but hopeful for a contract by the start of the school year.  

“We’re going to have a new school year, we have a lot of great initiatives with community schools, (Career and Technical Education), early childhood," she said. "I don’t want any distractions because we have a lot of work to do.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The XPRIZE, known for its lunar program that aims to send private companies to the moon, is also funding an effort to develop educational software. The goal is to enable children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic in about a year. Semi-finalists for the $10 million  prize were announced last week, including a CMU project called Robo Tutor.

Vadim Ghirda / AP

Pittsburgh-based RE2 Robotics penned a contract this week with the U.S. Air Force to create robotic pilots for military planes.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board unanimously agreed Thursday that the district needs a committee to create a plan to address what one board member called "an alarmingly high" rate of suspensions.

City education advocates have been pushing the Pittsburgh Public School district to address the high number of suspensions for years. For several months they’ve asked the board to ban suspensions for non-violent offenses for students below sixth grade.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

By eighth grade, Christian Carter had been suspended from school a dozen times. The first time was in 3rd grade for what he described as questioning his teacher. Most were for one or two days.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Recently, the East Allegheny School District broke ground on its first charter school.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The tension between charter school advocates and those who support traditional schools often comes down to money. Charters are public and funded by tax dollars, but many argue the schools siphon scarce resources.

Last year, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale called for an overhaul of the state’s charter school law.

“I am not saying we have the worst charter schools in the United States, " he said. "I am saying we have the worst charter school law in the United States." 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Fourth grade students at Propel Hazelwood gathered in a circle around another student summarizing a class text. As she spoke, each student gave her a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Just a few months after Pennsylvania approved its charter school law, a trailblazing Pittsburgh Public educator stood in front of the school board on a November night in 1997.

Helen Faison urged board members to approve the charter for the Urban Academy, a school that would operate independently from the district. It would remain public with open enrollment and the public school district would pay for students to attend it.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Two years ago, Sean Ferguson, of Hampton Township, was walking through a parking lot at the University of Dayton. He said the next thing he remembers is waking up in UPMC Mercy Hospital.

Lightning had struck the ground and threw Ferguson into a car, breaking his jaw. The electric current from the lighting ran through his body and sent him into cardiac arrest. Several students responded, but only one knew how to perform CPR until an ambulance arrived.

PA House of Representatives / YouTube

Pennsylvania  Rep. Tony DeLuca is calling on the state’s Department of Education to step in and oversee the Penn Hills School District’s finances.

Last week, the school board approved increasing property taxes for the second year in a row, just months after Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released an audit that found the district had accumulated more than $170 million dollars of debt.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Representatives of the Port Authority of Allegheny County are scheduled to meet soon with a group of community advocates concerned about the new fare enforcement policy for light rail riders.

The fare enforcement policy has been a point of contention between the authority and several advocacy groups including Pittsburghers for Public Transit and the Alliance for Policy Accountability, who say the policy will criminalize riders for fare evasion which could lead to fines, jail time and possibly deportation for undocumented riders.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Zainab Adisa’s love for writing blossomed in high school, but it took her some time to get there. She spent several years in elementary school in English as a second language classes.

“I thought I was fine, but apparently (teachers) heard what I couldn’t,” she said.

Adisa was born in the United States, but her family immigrated from Nigeria. Her family spoke Yoruba at home, which made learning English challenging, she said. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Results from a University of Pittsburgh survey published last week found that the presidential election impacted women's decisions about their contraception.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

There is no longer a predictable path for religious leaders, said Rev. Daniel Aleshire. When he went into seminary, it was typical to grow up following one denomination, attend the seminary of that denomination and then become a leader of a church. Now, the 69-year-old said, the path isn't as direct -- some people start later in life, some earn a master’s of divinity degree online and some don’t want to become the leader of a church.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A week after 80 students from University Preparatory middle and high school in the Hill District walked out of school to protest the potential layoff of 10 staff members, Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Superintendent Anthony Hamlet met with student representatives from each neighborhood high school to establish an advisory group.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The May 16 primary, in addition to shaping the mayoral race, will be an opportunity for Pittsburghers to cast their votes for members of the Pittsburgh Public Schools board. 

Two races are uncontested and only one has no incumbent as Thomas Sumpter, who represents district three, is not running for re-election.

Pages