Friday, April 28, 2017

Fwd: Pittsburgh Public Schools Update - April 2017

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, Ed.D" <>
Date: Apr 28, 2017 4:59 PM
Subject: Pittsburgh Public Schools Update - April 2017
To: <>


Dear Mark,

Dear Valued Stakeholder:

As our nation struggles with issues surrounding public education, the Pittsburgh Public Schools is focused on improving all of our schools. This time of change presents a great opportunity for us to align with the growing Pittsburgh marketplace and develop well-rounded, academically prepared graduates who can compete locally, nationally and globally. Our city is known for its grit, hardworking spirit, and ability to reinvent itself. Now we must reinvent Pittsburgh Public Schools and put the Pittsburgh perseverance to work.

On Thursday, April 27, we released our 2017-2022 Strategic Plan: Expect Great Things before an enthusiastic crowd at Heinz Field, where we also inducted seven members into the District's 2017 Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame. Their achievements in life underscore why we expect great things from our students - and why you should expect the same from PPS.

The five-year strategic plan is the result of nine months of planning that involved unprecedented community feedback, in-depth data review and third-party analysis, including findings from the Council of the Great City Schools. This planning began with my Look, Listen and Learn tour in August 2016, shortly after I became Superintendent of schools. We received valuable answers about our district's strengths and where there is room for improvement from around 3,500 individuals - a level of engagement that demonstrates how much Pittsburghers care about our youths and quality public education.

We have not changed our vision of graduating all students so they are ready to complete a two- or four-year college or workforce certification. But we have updated our roadmap to achieve this vision. No two students are the same, but each deserves to be challenged and excited about learning. We must set the bar high and let them know that we expect great things from them. At the same time, we must hold high expectations for our staff.

The plan outlines four long-term outcomes: increase student proficiency in literacy and math, eliminate racial disparity in achievement levels of African American students, and equip all students with skills to succeed in college, career and life. We will achieve our long-term outcomes through four strategic themes: 
  • Create a positive and supportive school culture; 
  • Develop and implement a rigorous, aligned system of instruction; 
  • Provide appropriate instructional support for teachers and staff; and 
  • Foster a culture of high performance for all employees.
Within these themes, we set 19 strategic initiatives to be phased in over three years. In Phase 1, launching now through June 2018, we will implement nine of those initiatives. Each initiative is led by an action team of staff members, with support from an advisory committee. We have pledged transparent communication, including progress updates to the public.

We will accomplish the goals set forth in the plan if we expect great things from ourselves, our students, our families, and our communities. We must hold each other accountable. This strategic plan is the first step in that direction. I welcome you to join Pittsburgh Public Schools on this new path to ensuring all of our students receive the high-quality education they deserve.

You can read the 2017-2022 Strategic Plan: Expect Great Things on our website:  

As always, I welcome your thoughts and questions.
Dr. Anthony Hamlet
Superintendent, Pittsburgh Public Schools


Seven individuals were inducted into the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.  The inductees include (Top Row) Samantha Paige Davis, Anna Tarka-DiNunzio, Dr. Rahmon Hart, (Bottom row) Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, Tamara Whiting, Dr. Justin Meyer, and Billy Porter (not pictured). 

School Spotlight
Pittsburgh Beechwood PreK-5

Pittsburgh Beechwood PreK-5 is a neighborhood school located in the Beechview community. Pittsburgh Beechwood's strong academic curriculum emphasizes attainment of standards and early success especially in literacy, mathematics and science.  Watch this  video to learn more.

PPS Student to Watch!
Zainab Adisa Named 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards' Gold Medal Portfolio Recipient
Congratulations to Pittsburgh CAPA senior Zainab Adisa on being named a 2017 Gold Medal Portfolio Recipient, the highest national honor of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

Zainab joins 15 other students nationwide in receiving the award, which includes a $10,000 scholarship.  This is not the first time Zainab has been recognized for her writing skills.  This past January, Zainab took first place in high school poetry in the 2017 Carnegie Mellon University's Martin Luther King  Writing Awards. Enjoy her winning piece "We Are Americans".  

Zainab  also hosts, films, and produces TV documentaries as part of the Steeltown Entertainment Project's Reel Teens crew.  Zainab hopes to study international relations and produce a documentary about human rights around the world. The child of Nigerian immigrants has traveled internationally several times to promote global peace through education, saying, "There's a stereotype about what America really is, so it's important that people to go out into the world and listen to each other and really learn about each other's cultures." Zainab continues to get recognized for talents, winning multiple scholarships from various programs.  

Community voices concerns about PPS Code of Student Content 
New Pittsburgh Courier, April 19, 2017 

In recent years, Pittsburgh Public Schools and its school board would make changes and revisions to its Code of Student Conduct without the public being able to offer its input and suggestions in an open setting.

That's all changed, now that Dr. Anthony Hamlet is the new sheriff in town.

Dr. Hamlet, who is completing his first year as Superintendent of Schools, initiated a series of open forums that the public could voice their concerns about a variety of issues affecting the district. And recently, the district completed a series of public meetings to gather information as to how to improve the Code of Student Conduct for the next school year. The public meetings were held at Pittsburgh Obama (March 22), Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (March 30), and Pittsburgh King (April 5).

Read more in the New Pittsburgh Courier

Pittsburgh Public Schools adapts curriculum to students new to English 
Pittsburgh Post - Gazette, March 27, 2017 

Around the start of the second semester, Khalil arrived in Pittsburgh from Armenia, where his family had moved to flee the violence in their native Syria. With some stability in his life, the 15-year-old returned to a classroom - for the first time in eight years.

"It's really starting from scratch. Not only has he not been in school, he told [a peer], 'I have not held a pencil in my hand in eight years. I haven't written anything,' " said Gina Andreassi, his main teacher at Brashear High School.

Though Khalil's is an extreme case, Pittsburgh Public Schools has been faced with an increasing number of students who come into the school system lacking a formal or consistent education. In response, it has launched a pair of new pilot programs at Brashear and Pittsburgh Arsenal PreK-5 that offer "a much more focused approach [for] kids that have had interrupted school or no formal school," said Jonathan Covel, the director for the district's English as a second language program.


Dr. Anthony Hamlet, Superintendent
341 South Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh PA
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"Instruction ends in the school-room, but education ends only with life."

- Frederick W. Robertson
Pittsburgh Public Schools, 341 South Bellefield Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
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