More Technology Added to Schools

By Jill Cueni-Cohen; Kathleen Ganster; Roxanne Tuinstra; Chris Checchio; Shellie Petri Budzeak | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), September 5, 2013 | Go to article overview

More Technology Added to Schools


Jill Cueni-Cohen; Kathleen Ganster; Roxanne Tuinstra; Chris Checchio; Shellie Petri Budzeak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


The school year is underway throughout the North suburbs with the exception of the Shaler Area School District, where a teacher strike has delayed the start of classes. Here's the second installment of our North back-to-school roundup:

Avonworth

Students returned to classes Aug. 27 with enrollment projected to be slightly higher than last year's 1,517 students in grades K-12, according to superintendent Thomas Ralston.

A redesigned website is expected to debut this month, according to Dana Hackley, director of communications and public relations.

"Our website will utilize the content management system Edline exclusively," she said, explaining that Edline will have a public side for the community and a private side for teachers, parents and staff.

The district also is launching a mobile device app, which will be available free from the Google Play and Apple App Store. Developed through ParentLink, the app will provide instant notifications, calendar updates, contact information and access to Edline and My School Bucks, as well as district social media.

Shawn Stoebener began in June as director of Technology and Information Systems. Through a new partnership with the local IT company, Questeq, the district is beginning to take more of a service-oriented approach to the technology needs of staff, teachers, parents and students.

"The district will continue to encourage the utilization of technology as it promotes project-based learning in the classroom," said Mr. Ralston, noting the addition of a new 21st Century Collaboration Center, which will feature digital learning spaces and videoconferencing in the middle/high school library through a $170,000 grant provided by the Grable Foundation.

In the high school, a yearlong project focusing on learning about careers in the arts will begin and eventually result in a showcase of curated artworks from many of Pittsburgh's museums in the high school.

Funded by a Hive grant provided by the Sprout Fund, Avonworth will be working with the Andy Warhol Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Mattress Factory, the Pittsburgh Glass Center and the Toonseum of Pittsburgh.

The middle and high schools will have new curriculum in grades 6- 8 and 9-12 English/reading and 9-12 math to align with anticipated Common Core State Standards. In the elementary school, grades K-2 will start a new language arts curriculum, and grades 3 and 5 will start a new math curriculum.

The Avonworth High School Career Academies will blend academic curriculum with workplace readiness and real-world application, supplementing the career training currently offered at the A.W. Beattie Career Center, Mr. Ralston said.

Air conditioning was installed in the middle/high school auditorium this summer, and improvements to the sound system and scoreboard at Lenzner Field were also made. New security measures have been implemented for all district buildings, Ms. Hackley said. "Each of the buildings will have a buzzer system, and admittance will only be available from the main building entrances upon being buzzed into the building by a secretary."

Construction on the $15.4 million primary center for grades K-2, which will be located behind the Avonworth Elementary School, continue. The building is scheduled to open for the 2014-15 year.

Breakfast and lunch prices have increased 10 cents to $1.20 for breakfast and either $2.05 or $2.15 for lunch. -- Jill Cueni-Cohen

Glen Montessori School

New students started Aug. 26, and returning students reported the following day. The school administration has been restructured to include Jodie Welge as interim executive director, Jackie Herrmann as the head of education and Sandy Kutchmann as the assistant executive director.

The curriculum has also been redefined, according to Ms. Welge, to focus on the Montessori philosophy of education. Spanish has been reintroduced to the school with the addition of a part-time faculty member, and a full-time art director has been added. …

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