2017 Northern Connection Education Guide

By Marianne Reid Anderson

In this, our annual Education issue of Northern Connection magazine, we have the honor and privilege to highlight the astounding schools and educational programs in our area that devote countless hours to deliver a positive learning experience to our children.

These extraordinary educators, administrators, counselors and astonishing students continually go above and beyond, devoting their time, energy, skills and talents to create a learning community within our community. We are both proud and grateful to highlight their many achievements, programs and so much more.


In this, our annual Education issue, we at Northern Connection magazine would like to thank the many dedicated educators in our area that are making time in the classroom a fun and innovative experience. Past Innovations in the Classroom are still available on our website at www.northernconnectionmag.com and we will continue highlighting new innovations, programs and educators in the coming months.

A Place to Grow Learning Center – A Place to Grow Learning Center is in its 16th year of offering exceptional child care and preschool for children six weeks to five years. Here, children are provided with a safe and caring environment and a full range of learning activities to help your child grow their education, social, emotional and physical development skills. Their innovative programs include music classes where the children learn to sing songs, play and make instruments and perform with confidence in front of an audience, such as with their “Winter Spectacular” holiday performance for parents this past December. Other programs include learning Spanish and American sign language as part of the curriculum as well as creative and physical activities such as parachute play and the converted “gym bus” complete with gymnastic equipment and zip line. Other programs include visiting programs such as balloon artists, magicians, local police and firefighters and more. Owner Dana Cupples explains, “Our philosophy is to educate. Children are busy, creative, active and learning. There is no TV unless for a specific scheduled activity such as pajama day. Even the computers for preschool are restricted to specific instructional use.” To learn more, visit http://aplacetogrowlearningcenter.com/Home.asp to apply for a tour and to speak to a director. “It’s our directors that make A Place to Grow so special,” comments Cupples, “Miss Nicole and Miss Terry have both been here over twelve years and are dedicated to make sure all the children have the


Butler County Community College – In their fourth semester, technology students have the opportunity enroll in a Product Realization Capstone course. This innovative course provides students with a realistic work experience, enabling them to use everything they have learned throughout their academic program and put it together just as they would in the real world. Specifically, students work in a multi-functional team to solve real world problems.  For example, two teams were challenged to find a solution to stripping the insulation from electrical cords to obtain the internal copper wiring with only a recycled bicycle for power. The solution will help children in Africa, who are currently burning the toxic insulation to obtain the internal copper. Each team must develop a solution and go through the entire product development cycle, from proposal through detailed design and documentation.  Each team must pass through a series of formal design reviews conducted by faculty members in the STEM Division.  The College’s FABLab is employed to produce prototypes using 3D printers, laser cutters and a plastic injection molding machine.  Each team developed a unique stripping solution that safely cranked the coil through an encased blade mechanism powered by the turning of bicycle pedals.  In another case, students were challenged to find a solution where many industrial robots can only grab and manipulate one specific item.  For this challenge, students developed a universal gripper that could pick up a variety of objects from a fender washer to a golf ball.  The gripper was based on a principle called “jammed granular particles” – similar to pulling a vacuum on ground coffee.  The students’ design utilized glass beads the size of granules of sand and produced their own venturi-based vacuum generator.  The teams were required to install their gripper on an industrial robot, write a pick-and-place program, and demonstrate that their gripper actually worked on a variety of objects.  According to Mike Robinson, assistant professor in the STEM Division and veteran mechanical engineer for such companies as Texas Instruments, General Electric and Emerson Electric, “Through the Capstone, students are given a very realistic work environment.  It is just incredible, how these students, after only fifteen months, can develop a solution through a professional product development cycle.”  To learn more, visit http://www.bc3.edu.

 The Campus School at Carlow University – The Campus School at Carlow University focuses on creating the right atmosphere for educating preschool through eighth graders. From innovative classroom design of white board tables and chairs that enable a child to move while seated, to state-of-the-art academic and service projects, The Campus School provides an all-encompassing learning environment. The director of admissions, Veronica A. Slain, points out that “the association with the University enables interaction with education majors as interns, helping with their practicums and research and to make sure we offer the latest in academic development.”  More than seventy-five percent of the educators have master’s degrees in their field of study and new hires who do not, must attain their masters within three years. At the Campus School, STEAM is integrated throughout the curriculum for example, in a language arts class, the children were able to animate dioramas based on a scene from the Dr. Seuss classic “The Lorax” through the use of “squishy circuits” which enable students of all ages to create circuits and explore electronics using playdough. The Campus School also has a highly-effective mentoring program called Big Brothers and Sisters where six, seven and eighth graders mentor students from kindergarten, first and second graders. They sit together at mass and go on field trips together and much more. The field trips range from pumpkin patches to all that Oakland has to offer with museums, art, culture and history. The students also participate in a whole array of service projects to raise money and learn the importance of caring for each other and those who are less fortunate. To learn more, visit http://campusschool.carlow.edu.

Central Catholic – Central Catholic High School is excited to announce a new summer college-prep program for rising 7th and 8th graders called BAM!–Because Academics Matter.  Math & Engineering Chair, Mr. Adam Kronebusch explains, “Utilizing the time that summer break provides for learning is crucial in helping students continue to prepare for the next school year. By exposing students to a sample of the high school curriculum, with highly qualified instructors in a state of the art facility, they will be well prepared, and more excited to move into a high school environment.” Students will take a Math and English course, but with the opening of the Zupancic Family STEM Center, students can also choose from a wide-variety of STEM and Fine Arts elective courses including Robotics, 3D Modeling, Lab Sciences, History/Culture, and Music.   According to Mr. Kronebusch, “each day will begin with students moving through three engaging 40-minute courses that focus on student learning and introducing new concepts. Students will utilize opportunities to talk to current high school students about their experiences. When the BAM! program officially ends for the day, there will be additional opportunities to expand their experiences with extracurricular activities later in the afternoon.” To learn more about the BAM! summer program visit www.centralcatholichs/summercamps.

Greater Pittsburgh Christian Schools Network – The Greater Pittsburgh Christian Schools Network represents twelve area Christian schools and works together with school leaders to support each other and the community. Known for exceptional academics and academic achievements, the Christian schools in our area integrate biblical values throughout their curriculum, as well as the arts, music, athletics, STEM and more. The majority of the Christian schools are accredited by Middle States, the Association of Christian Schools International, among others. Greater Pittsburgh Christian Schools Network also provides opportunities for school leaders to come together and discuss opportunities, challenges and the world of academia. Guest speakers often come to lead these discussions. For example, Meghan Speer of Marketing Support Network spoke to the group to discuss social media, how parents are using it and how schools can use social media to engage parents. The Greater Pittsburgh Christian Schools Network has also launched its own Facebook page that highlights the news and accomplishments of the schools as well as give great tips for wholesome family fun and learning. In July, the board of directors appointed Janet Hughes as the new interim director of the network. “One of the first things I did was to visit each school and at every single school, I felt the warmest atmosphere and culture. There is a genuine caring about the students, the staff and the community,” says Ms. Hughes. “Each and every school offers financial aid and every family is encouraged to apply even if they may think they cannot afford such an excellent education. Parents should be aware that they have a choice, a powerful and positive choice for their children’s education.” The enrollment among the schools varies with some schools being pre-k to twelfth grade, some pre-k to eighth and others pre-k to sixth. To learn more about the network or the incredible Christian schools it represents, visit http://pittsburghchristianschools.net to find a Christian school in your area.

Quigley Catholic High School – Quigley Catholic Students Have “Heart!” 12 Quigley Catholic biology students received a first-hand and up close view of the human body at work when they observed an open-heart surgery procedure recently at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. These students, all of whom are studying in the College in High School (CHS) biology program, watched the procedure from beginning to end from the AGH Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute (CVI). Accompanying the students on the trip to AGH were biology teacher Tim Hoban and mathematics teacher Anna Hipfel. Hoban expressed delight at how the students responded to the experience. “We have models and pictures to study in the classroom, but the chance to see a beating heart – the heart that keeps us alive – really enhanced their understanding of the human body and the role the heart plays in it.”  Even one of the students who is not considering a career in the medical field was greatly impressed by the operation. Said senior Juanita Bell, “I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I gained even more appreciation for just how precious it is.” To learn more about the incredible opportunities at Quigley Catholic High School, visit www.qchs.org.

Be sure and look for more Innovations in the Classroom in our February 2017 issue! If you are implementing an innovative program, lesson, extra-curricular activity or summer camp, be sure and let us know by emailing NorthCon@consolidated.net or calling (724) 940-2444.