Picking the right school isn’t easy. Every student is different and weeding through the options to find a school that will give you and your child the most rewarding educational experience can be filled with pressure.
As a parent, it’s important to know your options. From public to charter to private, different schools offer a variety of teaching styles, content, and opportunities. Add to that list Pittsburgh’s wide array of specialized magnet and charter schools designed to attract students with an interest in a specific subject, like the arts or the environment. Learn what’s available to you, and with options in mind, begin your selection process. We recommend you write down five things that are most important to you when picking a school, and use them as criteria to help score each of your candidates.
You might add to that list a handful of specific factors that are important for your child’s chances of success. What teaching style best suits your child? What level of athletic teams and facilities would help your child thrive? Does the school have an articulated program to help socialize kids and limit bullying and other negatives? How does a school help a child who is challenged, or challenge a child who is ahead of the class?
Once you’ve narrowed the field to two or three choices, an in-person visit is a must. That way you can, face-to-face, gather and confirm information on curriculum, approach to learning, discipline policies, safety, facilities, and more. Observe a class, talk to other parents, or go to a PTA meeting – they won’t kick you out! You’ll definitely emerge with a sense of the personality of a school – with how policies and practices become realities.
When you’ve made your choice, the application process is all that remains between you and your child’s journey towards learning, and most schools try to make that process as straightforward as possible. Good luck, and let the learning begin!
ENVIRONMENTAL CHARTER SCHOOL
As the world changes and becomes increasingly more complex, society will need global citizens that are equipped with skills that allow them to be flexible thinkers, creative problem solvers, and effective leaders. At ECS, students experience a multi-disciplinary, “out-the-door” learning approach rooted in real-world problems that build active, engaged, and empathetic citizens. Through the dedication of faculty and staff, student to teacher relationships are foundational in the classroom and connect families to ECS’s mission to educate each student to high academic standards using innovative curricula that will foster knowledge, love of, and respect for the environment and preserve it for future generations.
The exploration of diverse perspectives and the integration of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in ECS’s curriculum builds and supports systems thinking, social growth, and dexterity in analysis. ECS’s campuses are nestled in the East End of Pittsburgh and allows for a unique mix of urban environments with locations close to bus and bike routes and two campuses residing near Frick Park. ECS is dedicated to providing a unique academic space and a place for all students to flourish and thrive while encouraging them to take a deep dive into the examination of the built, social, and natural environments.
-Jon McCann, Founding Principal and CEO
LEARNING AND GROWING TOGETHER AT THE JCC’S EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT CENTER
Educators are more than teachers at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh’s Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC). ECDC cultivates a welcoming and inclusive environment in which our educators, together with the children, learn and grow.
ECDC is a year-round early learning center for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old. ECDC programs are housed in dedicated, fully secured wings of the JCCs in Squirrel Hill and the South Hills. ECDC makes use of facilities in the entire JCC campus including indoor heated pools, full-size gymnasiums and outdoor playgrounds.
ECDC’s approach to early learning is inspired by the ideas and practices developed in Reggio Emilia, Italy, for the education of young children. This program is based on the principles of respect, responsibility and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment.
“Children are engaged in long-term investigations throughout the year,” said Liza Baron, ECDC Director. “We prioritize the social and emotional development of each child in our care.” ECDC educators make the difference. ECDC’s talented and dedicated staff is committed to ensuring each child’s happiness, safety and growth. The JCC supports its educators in many ways, providing competitive wages, fitnessmembership, health insurance, paid time off, employee discounts on tuition and classes, and professional development opportunities.
Join the ECDC family today, and start being the difference tomorrow.
For more information andto apply, go to JCCPGH.org.
PA CYBER’S POLYTECHNIC ACADEMY
PA Cyber is a public online charter school that serves students in kindergarten through twelfth grade across Pennsylvania. My colleagues and I work to ensure every student who comes to our school can succeed in achieving their goals, whatever they may be. We recognized early on that technical fields are a significant area for career growth, and we created the PA Cyber Polytechnic Academy to encompass our STEM offerings. We have made hands-on and project-based learning accessible to all our students through in-person and virtual learning opportunities, such as classes, clubs, and summer programs, where participants learn by doing. Partnerships with colleges and educational groups enable us to offer diverse and modern programs. We introduced our Polytechnic Mobile Lab last year, which brings hands-on learning to our ten offices statewide.
– Brian Hayden, CEO
Learn more at pacyber.org/polytechnic.
WHY OAKLAND CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL?
Oakland Catholic High School is the only all girls Catholic school in this region. The integration of a rigorous academic program within a faith-based, value-focused community provides the young women of Oakland Catholic with the challenges and support necessary to become competent, ethical, global leaders of tomorrow.An all girls’ educational environment isn’t about the absence of boys, but rather the presence and value of girls, and the importance of their development at this crucial age when they discover their gifts, talents, and aspirations. We believe that the best way to fully develop academic excellence, leadership potential, ethical decision-making, and spiritual growth in young women is to create an atmosphere that caters to their specific goals, needs, and learning styles. A member school of the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, Oakland Catholic draws on the extensive body of research and resources available that supports the value of single-gender education at the high school level.
Located in the cultural, educational, technological, and medical hub of the city, Oakland Catholic High School is proud to call the dynamic urban landscape of the Oakland neighborhood its campus and its home. Students are within walking distance of attending lectures on Carnegie Mellon University’s campus, studying with classmates at the main branch of the Carnegie Library, or attending a chemistry lab on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus.
-President Mary Claire Kasunic
CLASSROOM TO COCKPIT
First Officer Peyton R. Start (’19) makes his office in the sky each day, but he will always consider CCBC his home. Start discovered that his dream of flying could be reality when he enrolled in CCBC’s High School Aviation Academy at the age of 17. He was a junior in the Peters Township School District, and itwas at that moment when he formed a lifelong network of friends and colleagues. “I keep in touch with former flight instructors, mentors, and peers. They are still a part of my day-to-day life.”
CCBC recently visited Peyton at Vee Neal Aviation Air Elite’s hangar at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe.
It was immediately apparent that Start is where he belongs. Opening the passenger door to the Cessna Citation CJ3 jet that would be his work space for the coming week, Start walked through a preflight checklist. “Being a CCBC alum makes me feel like I am part of a larger legacy, and I am finally part of a team that I have been working my whole life to join.”
During his junior and senior years in high school, Peyton attended high school classes in the morning and then drove each afternoon to CCBC’s Aviation Sciences Center at the Beaver County Airport, where he completed college coursework and start logging flight hours. When he graduated from high school, the future pilot had already completed half of his Professional Pilot Associate Degree. He continued at CCBC and graduated in 2019.
Following graduation, Peyton immediately transitioned into his bachelor’s degree coursework at Southern Illinois University (SIU). Through an easy access degree completion program, the University flies SIU instructors to CCBC each Saturday to provide instruction in aviation management, allowing students to complete the next leg of their journey without ever leaving Beaver County. This opportunity permitted Start to earn his credentials, fast track his career, and be hired as a private, professional pilot at the age of 20.
Living his passion every day, the first officer now enjoys his time flying clients across the continent, never knowing where the next call will take him. When Peyton learned about the new campaign to grow the James M. Johnson School of Aviation Sciences, he smiled. “I’m excited for the new generation of pilots who will train using the best technology possible and learn receiving the best instruction available.”When asked what he shares with others about CCBC, Start replied, “They welcome everyone back. CCBC is for more than just current students. It’s always the place where our aviation family can land.