Sarah Schneider

Reporter

Sarah Schneider covers all things education in the Pittsburgh region - from early childhood initiatives to following changes in the Pittsburgh Public Schools system to after school and adult education. An Illinois native, Sarah came to WESA as a PULSE (Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience Fellow) fellow. She worked for two years 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 her walking dogs at an animal shelter, crocheting and taking any unique class she can. 

Education-related story ideas are always welcome at sschneider@wesa.fm.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Tim Stevens waited inside the Meineke auto repair shop in Larimer for his car’s tune up, just in time for Election Day. He sorted through bags of flyers that he had taken out of the backseat of his car.

“Get Out and Vote!” and “Roll to the Polls” were printed on the neon orange papers.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Black Pittsburgh Public students are far behind their white counterparts regardless of economic status, according to a report from Greenways Strategy Management.

Lead consultant Martha Greenway told school board members this week that the disparity was the most critical issue the district faces.

Nationally, there isn’t often a gap in achievement between black and white students who are economically disadvantaged, she said.

Duquesne School of Law / Facebook

Starting in November, Duquesne University law students will travel to eight of Pittsburgh’s public housing complexes to help residents expunge juvenile convictions that put them at risk of eviction.  

In Pennsylvania, a person’s entire juvenile record becomes public if they are convicted of a felony as a minor – between the ages of 14 and 18. Duquesne School of Law assistant professor Tiffany Sizemore-Thompson said that is the most common reason a record becomes public. And once it’s open, every part of the record is public.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

In the small, grassy field at Schenley plaza, a group of middle school students were greeted among a cluster of makeshift tents and handed IDs. One was for a 12-year-old from the Syrian Arab Republic, it was stamped with the word “refugee.”

It was part of "Forced From Home," an outdoor exhibition taking place through Monday. It’s a free guided experience into the lives of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Hazelwood’s Almono site has its first a street – well, kind of.

Developers of the environmentally contaminated site, which is planned to become a hub for new housing, young workers and tech businesses, just got the money needed to finish its first infrastructure project. The three foundations that own the site, the Heinz Endowment, Richard King Mellon Foundation and Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation received a $9.5 million loan needed to finish the site’s first completed street.

Musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has canceled all concerts through Nov. 18, including the Light Up Night Community Concert that evening that is part of the city's traditional holiday shopping season kickoff.

The orchestra had previously canceled concerts through Oct. 27 after the musicians went on strike Sept. 30. Both parties ended mediation when the musicians called the strike.

Susan Walsh / AP

The National Department of Transportation announced Thursday that Pittsburgh had received an $11 million grant for advanced technology transportation projects. The announcement was made shortly before Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx joined Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto in a panel discussion during the White House Frontiers Conference at Carnegie Mellon University.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Donna and Steve Dzurilla live in a single-story home on a quiet street in Lincoln Place. They’re just barely in the city limits, surrounded by neighboring West Mifflin.

The walls of their home are lined with photos of places not far from their house, places that mean a lot to their families: the steel mills.

  

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh has nearly 25,000 vacant lots, according to GTECH Strategies. 

GTECH Project Manager James Snow said blight is hard to define, but it could be an empty lot or an abandoned house.

NIAID

In developing nations, acute intestinal diseases and respiratory infections are deadly.

In the United States, the same viruses are the most likely culprit when children are hospitalized.

“So this is a huge burden on society both for the children and for the families involved," said John Williams, chief of pediatric infectious diseases for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. "(Especially) economically in terms of money spent caring for these illnesses, and time lost from work for parents, etcetera.” 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

In a time of shrinking school budgets, arts education sometimes takes a back seat to academics. In order to introduce students to arts not often taught in schools, the Pittsburgh Promise hosted a series of immersive dance and music classes taught by local artists.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public officials have installed between three and six water bottle filling stations in each the district's 54 schools after finding 141 water fixtures texted positive for elevated levels of lead.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

An empty, three-acre parking lot lies at the corner of Station Street and Euclid Avenue.

You can’t actually park there. Weeds grow in the cracked cement between lines of faded paint.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

An audience of about 50 people watched uncomfortably as a man named Jon confessed he raped a girl in high school.

The confession was actually part of a scene in the play, “Tape,” a story about sexual assault, performed at the University of Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The play follows the character Jon’s confession to his friend, Vince, that he raped a woman 10 years earlier. In the play, the two men both dated the woman, Amy, in high school.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

That vote was part of the national organization’s choice to endorse Trump, announced Friday. Pittsburgh FOP President Robert Swartzwelder wouldn't say how many officers cast votes during the August meeting. He would only say the vote represented the 730 officers who pay dues. He said he hasn’t heard any pushback from officers who may disagree with the endorsement.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Affordable housing advocacy groups rallied downtown Tuesday, urging people to attend Wednesday’s City Council public hearing on a proposed Housing Opportunity Fund.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools students are getting hands-on education for careers in emergency medical services, firefighting and the police force this year.

Students from across the district can take the course at Westinghouse Academy in Homewood. Fifteen are enrolled this year. City and school officials said the hands-on training will help prepare a new class of workers and could help to diversify the city’s police force and fire departments.

Rose Tileston / Hidden Harvest

There are 600 fruit-bearing trees in Pittsburgh, according to the most recent municipal forest analysis in 2008. They line streets and grow in parks, but Hana Uman with the nonprofit 412 Food Rescue said much of that fruit rots.

“When we go and check out some of these trees, there’s just often fruit all over the ground,” she said. “So that is fruit that could have been used and just goes to waste.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Several Pittsburgh City Council members said the city’s police chief and director of public safety assured them during a private briefing Thursday that if a crime against a person is reported in the city, an officer will be available to file a report in person.

Longitude Latitude / Flickr

Residents of the Hill District, Uptown and West Oakland will soon qualify for a free course that could help lead to union jobs through the Community College of Allegheny County. The course will help those seeking a union apprenticeship refresh the math skills needed for an interview.

A grant from Pittsburgh Mercy's foundation McAuley Ministries will cover a minimum of 15 students’ $109 course fee.

CCAC’s Vice President for Workforce Development, Teresa Bryant, said the grant comes at a time when union jobs, such as construction, are in higher demand in the region.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About 200 Wilkinsburg-area teens started school at Westinghouse Academy in Homewood on Monday.

Teachers and community members lined Westinghouse's entrance, cheering, “Good morning, we’re glad you’re here. Have a good day! Have a good school year!”

They wanted to help ease the merger of Wilkinsburg and Westinghouse, they said.

Ernest Bey, a member of Wilkinsburg community group Mad Dads, which works to keep youths out of trouble, held a sign reading, “Don’t forget your past, look forward to your future.”

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

City officials said Monday they’d lost track of who was responsible for testing three flash flood safety gates on Washington Boulevard that malfunctioned Sunday, resulting in the heavy rains submerging two cars. 

First responders used tow ropes to rescue a 54-year-old woman from one of the vehicles. Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said the woman told him she saw some kind of indication that she should not drive through the street but thought she could make it. It was unclear what indicator she saw. Three passengers were able to escape from a vehicle without assistance.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA


The Wilkinsburg School District has seen a high turnover in leadership in the last several years. It’s on the state’s watch list for low academic performance which, combined with declining enrollment, led to the closure of its middle and high school in May. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Students in Pittsburgh’s hilltop neighborhoods will go back to school in a fully renovated building next week.

The 78,000-square-foot property that housed the former Philip Murray Elementary in Mount Oliver is now home to the newly-upgraded Arlington Elementary.

In the school’s old location, a half-mile away from the new one, its students were housed in two buildings that had fallen into disrepair, Arlington K-8 Principal Holly Ballard said.

Humphrey's and Partners Urban Architecture

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board plans to lessen the tax burden for a New-York based developer to build a high rise apartment building in Oakland.

The developer, Park 7, plans to turn several properties on Centre Avenue from North Craig to North Dithridge into a 17-story mixed use development with 14 floors of residential space.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Body cameras have a way of rapidly de-escalating situations, according to Chief Jeff Besong, the head of Point Park University's Department of Public Safety.

One of his officers recently approached a family in the midst of an argument on the Boulevard of the Allies, and the adult man in the group began swearing at him. As soon as the officer informed the man he was being recorded on a body camera, the profanity ceased, Besong said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About 30 men, mostly coaches and athletic directors, at the Sewall Center at Robert Morris University this week were asked one important question: "Who here was ever taught about consent?"

No one raised his hand.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

When students at the Homewood-Brushton YMCA are gone for the weekend, an app-controlled robot can now drop food pellets into their fish tank.

“We thought, what would you like to do?” said Russ White, vice president of technology strategy for Development Dimensions International. “Through talking to them we thought there’s probably a solution there.”   

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools’ new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, now a month into the job, said student and teacher input will be essential to the district's strategic plan going forward. 

In an update to the school board Tuesday, he called the first phase of his 90-day transition plan, “a listening tour.”

“We must focus on teacher input and best practices when we consider introducing more research-based, proven models that drive student outcomes,” Hamlet said. “But, you must do this by a bottom-up approach with our best teachers taking a leadership role in the conversation.”

Elaine Thompson / AP

Pittsburgh Public school administrators began training for the district’s new transgender nondiscrimination policy which goes into effect this school year.

Vanessa Davis, executive director of THRIVE, said the policy, which will allow transgender and gender expansive students, those who identify outside of gender categories, to use pronouns, names and bathrooms they identify with, is a large undertaking. Any change stemming from the policy won’t come overnight, she said.

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