Linda Lane has been a force in Pittsburgh Public Schools since she became superintendent in 2010. At the end of June, she’ll be stepping down and stopped by Essential Pittsburgh to talk about her experience in the role and what she's learned.
“I learn every single day,” said Lane. “I learn from kids. I’ve learn from staff. I learn from the community.”
She’s learned about the hardworking Pittsburgh spirit, the importance of community engagement, and that the job was harder than she thought.
One of the hard things Lane faced as superintendent were financial issues. She said the financial picture is now looking better.
“We’re in a place where we can put a few things back, and we’re not under the gun to make reductions.”
“It was a painful period because we let go of some things we didn’t want to,” says Lane. “I didn’t feel good about the things I had to do, but knew I had to do it.”
After regaining some of the lost funding and with help from community organizations, Pittsburgh Public Schools has been able to stay deeply involved in the arts. The district holds an art show downtown, has won multiple Gene Kelly awards for theater performances, and is adding back instrumental music this year.
Improvement is not limited to the arts, however. Under Lane, Pittsburgh schools have seen academic achievements as well.
During her time, the district has seen an increase graduation rate, an increase in the number of students enrolled in advanced placement classes, and the creation of Summer Dreamers, a summer camp designed to engage students in educational activities over the summer.
Recently, Lane's been tackling the problem of chronic absenteeism, saying she knows it's not always the student's fault, but hoping the district will take steps to always get kids to schol.
“If we look at the rate of the children being absent, it’s staggering,” says Lane. “We want to make school as engaging as we can.”
Through curriculum that incorporates hands on activities, Lane hopes to spark the desire to learn in all students.
“I think that it is something that can engage the disengaged.”
Lane did not comment on the recent allegations against her successor Dr. Anthony Hamlet, whose resume was found to have inconsistencies. She said the situation was up to the community and the Board.
While Lane joked she will not miss attending board meetings, she said she will truly miss the kids.
More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.