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. 

The Pennsylvania House unanimously approved legislation to allow students receiving welfare benefits to enroll in an academic support program for up to two years while completing an associate's or technical education.

Under House Bill 934, eligible students pursuing occupations deemed high priority by the state – maintenance and repair workers, nursing aides, sales representatives and others – can count class and study hours toward the required number of work hours needed to obtain monthly Temporary Cash Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) assistance.

Nearly 1,450 new residents moved Downtown since 2010, according to a report released through the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership on Thursday.

Based on 2010 census data, the 4th annual State of Downtown report shows more people are opting to live, work and play in and around the Golden Triangle. Residential and office occupancy rates are both up, with higher attendance to cultural events and more options for dining and retail.

The report found 12,604 residents lived in the area in 2014, up 261 since the year prior.

Bike Pittsburgh / Flikr

Bike commuters will take to the streets en masse Friday for the city's 14th Bike to Work Day.

Pop-up commuter cafés will be located throughout the city for cyclists to have coffee and meet other cyclists while grabbing swag bags stuffed with prizes and coupons.

Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike Pittsburgh, a bike and pedestrian advocacy group, said the event is an easy way for beginners to get started.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Before she brought the students into the main area of Willy Tee’s Barbershop in Homewood to listen to a story, Cynthia Battle asked parents and police officers what their favorite childhood book was.

Battle, a community outreach specialist for the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), said she loved "The Pancake Man."

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Applying for college seemed like the next logical step for Senque Little-Poole. The Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy senior said his educational experience has been a push to get a better grade, a better Grade Point Average and to get accepted into a good college.

Regular vocabulary and comprehension programming will be available to Homewood children and families through a $1.5 million two-year grant from PNC’s Grow Up Great initiative.

The six partners in the initiative – Carnegie Science Center, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy – tested the program this past fall at various Homewood locations. The Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children has worked in Homewood for several years providing opportunities for early education and development. PAEYC’s Early Learning Hub in Homewood was one of the pilot locations for Buzzwords.

Nearly $900,000 in grant funding has been pledged to implement Pittsburgh Public School’s plan to transition a Bloomfield elementary school into a partial STEAM magnet.

The school board voted to develop Woolslair PreK-5, the district’s smallest school with 110 students, into a partial science, technology, engineering, arts and math – or STEAM – magnet school in September after initial plans to close the school. The plan also includes developing curriculum at three other STEAM magnets, Lincoln prek-5, Schiller 6-8 and Perry High School. The board will vote to accept the grants at the April 22 legislative meeting.

Area educators gathered Monday to discuss best practices in promoting student achievement in public education at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s first Learning Together conference.

The day-long conference featured 50 round-table discussions and sessions showcasing what regional educators do to increase achievement in schools.

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit is one of 29 units in Pennsylvania. It provides specialized education services to the 42 suburban Allegheny county school districts.

In an attempt to draw attention to local businesses, Sustainable Pittsburgh coordinates days for “mobs” of consumers to be intentional with purchases and support stores committed to green practice and sustainability.

Sahar Arbab, a Green Cities Sustainability Corps fellow with Sustainable Pittsburgh, organized the most recent “Cash Mob” this past November in Ambridge. Fifteen businesses were involved in the day-long shopping spree. The organization is offering an opportunity for communities to apply to host a cash mob in June. 

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack is in Washington, D.C. Friday attending his first meeting as co-chair of the Military Affairs Committee of the National Lieutenant Governor’s Association.

Stack was asked to accept the appointment last month by NLGA chair Nancy Wyman, the lieutenant governor of Connecticut. Not only is this Stack’s first appearance as co-chair, but also his first meeting since being sworn in January.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

It’s a conversation heard around countless dinner tables or on the way home. What did you do at school today? The answer most often is nothing or "I don’t know" or "I played."

That one-sided conversation is common in early education students. Parents can try to talk to teachers during the shuffle of picking up their child, but that’s usually only slightly more productive.

Gateway to the Arts

Early childhood learners outperform their peers when they are taught with an arts-integrated background, according to an independent study of a model used in 11 Pittsburgh area schools.

Forty-three percent of Pittsburgh public high school students were chronically absent during the 2013-14 academic year.

More than 250 education stakeholders are expected to attend today’s School Attendance Matters Conference hosted by the United Way of Allegheny County and several other sponsors to discuss ways to change the trend.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Parents, educators, students and political representatives met for two hours Saturday to discuss reducing suspensions in school and create a climate that doesn’t push students out of school.  

The Education Law Center of Pittsburgh and Great Public Schools led a workshop-style conversation at the Kingsley Center in East Liberty titled, “educate don’t incarcerate,” a nod to the notion that disciplining students by pushing them out of school creates a pipeline to future incarceration.

Mark Abramowitz / Opera Theater of Pittsburgh

In an attempt to both re-brand what opera can offer and what it can teach, the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh is developing an opera it has dubbed an, Eco-Opera.

“This whole notion that opera, sometimes is branded as an elitist art form, and very often the subject matter, and the medium, look back into old European works and there’s a strong sense of visiting a sort of musical theatrical museum when you go to the opera. That’s not the way we want it to be,” said the company’s artistic and general director, Jonathan Eaton.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A high school history teacher at Ellis School in Shadyside is showing his 11th grade students the evolution of racial attitudes in America by exploring how common items have had different meanings for black and white people.

Students speak in the first person and personify one item a week including a typewriter, bus ticket, acoustic guitar, police baton and a flapper dress.

Sarah Schneider

Teachers in two Wilkinsburg elementary schools are now using iPads as part of the district’s new personal learning literacy curriculum.  

Kelly Polosky, a fifth grade teacher at Kelly Elementary said her students are able to move at their own pace with the use of tablets.

“During that intervention hour, students are able to stay focused and work on something they specifically need and it’s really hard to get to all those students at a small group table for me to work on, so this is something they can benefit from working on their own.”

In the twelfth day of public debate over whether or not a man or a group of men purposely released air from footballs, a CMU mechanical engineering graduate student traveled to Phoenix to join the discussion.

Thomas Healy said the deflated footballs the New England Patriots used during the first half of its defeat of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game January 18 could be a result of atmospheric pressure and not foul play.

He is presenting his detailed experimental data to several organizations this weekend before Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is taking a strong stance against a bill making its way through Harrisburg that he says would “would hurt city taxpayers & hamstring efforts to cooperate with nonprofits.”

The state’s finance committee passed and sent to the Senate floor last week Senate Bill 4 , which would clarify the Purely Public Charity Act of 1997 to make the legislature the sole body to determine what qualifies an organization as a charity.

The four Pennsylvania school districts with the highest percentage of students living in poverty are in the Pittsburgh region.

The race for the three open seats on the seven-member Pennsylvania Supreme Court is expected to be intense this year, and there is no doubt it is starting earlier than normal.

All six Democratic Supreme Court candidates will be in Pittsburgh at 2 p.m. Sunday for a forum at Chatham University. In total there are 18 announced candidates.

But little is known and will be known about them. 

Cars assembled by middle schoolers zipped down the 65-foot elevated track lining the wall in less than a second.

The cars moved so quickly, the engineers often had to ask if their car won the race.

The dragster car competition was just one of several events at the Technology Student Association (TSA) regional competition at Pittsburgh Technical Institute. The organization focuses on bringing technology into classrooms and extending that learning after-school. Nearly 400 high school students attended the first day and 200 middle school students on the second day.

Courtesy of Boys and Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania

Traditionally, learning in the U.S. has been home to school and back to home.

Educators widely agree different approaches are needed for each generation of learners. They also agree that means learning must occur in all aspect of a student’s life.

A group of University of Pittsburgh scientists is working with the U.S. Agency for International Development to create an international network of wheelchair professionals.

The newly formed International Society of Wheelchair Professionals was recently launched with a two-year $2.3 million award from USAID to teach and professionalize device repair, build affiliations and improve the lives of the nearly 70 million people worldwide who require a wheelchair for mobility.

Susan Steel ignored a mole in 2005.

The Chicago resident and mother of two said she put it off but eventually went to her dermatologist only when the mole began to bleed. The first visit confirmed she had melanoma and the growth needed to be surgically removed.

“You go into surgery very quickly and then the surgeon comes out and looks desperate and tells you that you have less than a year to live,” she said.

At that time there were no effective treatments, some options had a “high” 6 percent chance of survival, Steel says.

It might come as no surprise that area food banks say they see an influx in people donating their time, money or groceries during the holiday season, but what many do not realize is that the giving spirit seems to hit a lull after the New Year.

“Member congregations are doing food drives … so we do see an influx (in donations) but the need also is increased this time of the year. It’s actually ever present throughout the year,” said East End Cooperative Ministry Executive Director Michael Mingrone.

The Saturday after Christmas, flocks of area volunteers will scour the region tallying birds as part of the 115th Christmas Bird Count Report.

The annual event organized by the Audubon Society boasts the longest-standing citizen science project. Last year 183 residents Pittsburgh area residents traveled 181 miles by foot and 250 by car to count 66 species and 46,577 birds.

Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania operations director Brian Shema said the 115-year-long data set provides a clear picture of the region’s birds.

For the 14th consecutive year, Jewish volunteers will spend time helping at various charities in the region on Christmas Day. The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh coordinates the events not only to help those who benefit from the work, but also to give a day off to the charities’ employees.  

“Mitzvah days are done around the country in different Jewish federations. Jewish people are always looking for something to do on Christmas Day other than eat Chinese food and go to the movies,” said the federation’s Volunteer Center Coordinator Jenny Jones.

Chances are the average Pittsburgher won’t buy six geese-a-laying for a loved one this year. But if you choose to, the price has increased drastically since last year.

PNC Wealth Management has for the the last 31 years calculated the price of the 12 gifts of Christmas from the popular song. The department puts a price tag on the unusual modern-day gifts with help from the National Aviary, pet chains, farms and a national jewelry chain. The sources remain consistent yearly, but like the Consumer Price Index, prices fluctuate due to market or business climate changes.

The Northside Leadership Conference will use $900,000 in pledged funding from Highmark, Northwest Savings Bank and the Pittsburgh Steelers to support the North Side neighborhood including small business and strategic real estate development.

Gloria Rayman, past NSLC board of directors president, said Friday because the coalition of grassroots neighborhood organizations has non-profit status, it can partner with corporate sponsors.

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