Back-to-School Innovations in the Classroom

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By Marianne Reid Anderson


Since January, we have been looking at the amazing and innovative ways and means educators in our area have created, developed and implemented technology, experiments and teaching methodologies into their classroom. In this, our August Back-to-School issue, we applaud the many educators, administrators and support personnel that spent their summers learning and adapting their lessons for their students. In this month’s issue, we highlight the following schools and be sure to look for more in our September Back-to-School issue.

Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School – This brand new, state-of-the-art modern learning facility, located in Cranberry, is COMPLETELY wireless. Since each student and faculty member will be issued a school-owned laptop Windows computer, in addition to any individually-owned mobile devices, all will have Internet access, anywhere, anytime to go from room to room and is ideal for collaboration and team projects. There are also interactive SmartBoards installed in every classroom and will also be loaded with “SchoolView” that will enable teachers or administrators to “push” out content to the SMART Boards for presentations, timely news items and informative broadcasts from television or created from within the school’s own television studio, the possibilities are endless. Visitwww.cwnchs.orgto learn more or schedule a tour of this innovative school.

Community College of Allegheny County – CCAC North Campus Offers Veteran-Friendly Programs & Services. CCAC was recently named to the 2014 Military Friendly Schools list by Victory Media, a global media outlet for military personnel transitioning into civilian life. This designation signifies that CCAC is among the top 20 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools in the country that are ensuring the success of military service members, veterans and their spouses as students by creating a supportive on-campus environment. With access to a dedicated Veterans Services Center and access to scholarships and veteran-related clubs and activities, it’s no wonder that CCAC continues to attract veterans to its ranks. In fact, CCAC hosts one of the largest student veteran populations in the region. CCAC North Campus offers a wealth of programs that many veterans find appealing, including: Criminal Justice & Criminology – This degree program prepares individuals to work in public or private agencies for law enforcement agencies, private security companies, police departments, county sheriff departments and state highways patrol stations. CCAC offers three program tracks: Law Enforcement; Corrections; or Computer Forensics. Business – CCAC’s Business programs are designed to prepare students for career entry, or for transfer to a four-year college or university. Individuals interested in either enrolling or obtaining more information should call (412) 366-3700 or visit

Oakland Catholic – Oakland Catholic is introducing a new AP Human Geography course this year.  The faculty member, Ms. Cynthia McNulty, current Chair of the English Department and instructor in both the English and the Social Studies departments, is teaching the course and has been working with the World Affairs Council and with the University of Pittsburgh’s Global Studies Program. Through these partnerships, Oakland Catholic will also unveil a global competency certificate program. This academic endeavor will furnish the students of Oakland Catholic High School with an educational experience that prepares them for higher learning, the 21st century, and global citizenship. Ms. McNulty is returning from a year sabbatical during which she traveled extensively around the globe and participated in various professional development opportunities.  Key to the development of our Social Studies curriculum, Ms. McNulty was instrumental in a World History program offering AP World History along with AP US History, and AP Government.  The Oakland Catholic Social Studies curriculum works in tandem with the English and Literature curriculum where Ms. McNulty has introduced AP Language and Composition in addition to the traditional AP English Literature course. To learn more, visit


Providence Heights Alpha School - iMac Computers & Innovating Classrooms

Providence Heights Alpha School – iMac Computers & Innovating Classrooms

Providence Heights Alpha School – iMac Computers are Innovating Classrooms at Providence Heights Alpha School: Providence Heights Alpha School provides outstanding instruction in fundamental skills, while encouraging original thinking, intellectual curiosity, moral growth and creative self-expression. In addition, the Alpha School is now home to ten new iMac computers! With these computers, students will be able to record and edit audio, video, and photos to reimagine the way they approach their education. Additionally, students will be using these computers to learn valuable skills such as coding and video game design. The experienced faculty at the Alpha School is comprised of individuals with a variety of skills and interests, bringing diversity to their teaching styles. Utilizing the iMac computers and new technology, teachers will have ample opportunity to collaborate together to integrate project-based learning into their curriculum. These iMacs will innovate the way the students are educated. To learn more, please visit their website at or contact them at 412.366.4455.

Saint Kilian School – the devoted and innovative faculty at St. Kilian’s has been extremely busy all summer integrating even more state-of-the-art applications for use by the students on their iPads and iPad Mini’s. St. Kilian’s has integrated the iPad and iPad applications into every grade to enhance what the students learn. For example, in addition to using the iPad to learn about artists, art history and create art, students also use an app known as “Garage Band” to create their own songs. Students also use the iPads to strengthen and enrich their math, reading and writing skills. In addition, the faculty are evaluating a variety of applications that will enable them to give assignments, track assignments, track student progress, distribute notes, teach note-taking, share links and information and much more. Visit to learn more.

Saint Sebastian School – Saint Sebastian School has completed their three-year plan in only two under the leadership of Principal Dr. Kathleen Roppa and due to the support of parents, students, faculty and parish. The school has expanded its resources for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math including new science labs, SMART Boards throughout that are outfitted with responders for interaction from the students giving immediate feedback to teachers who can then modify the lesson, as necessary. There are also new “document cameras” which enable 3-dimensional projections and are ideal to show various scientific modeling and geometric perspectives. There is also a new accelerated reading program. Now, with the completion of the plan and providing a solid base in technology and innovation. Dr. Roppa is retiring to focus on the needs of her family and would like to applaud the incredible faculty for embracing technology in order to “talk the kids’ language.” To learn more about these accomplishments, visit and click on “The School.”

Saint Vincent College – In addition to Steelers Training Camp, Saint Vincent is also known for its incredible Basilica which is receiving a new state-of-the-art for organ for the Gallery of the Basilica designed by the renowned John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders.In 2008, Buzard built a small pipe organ for the Apse, and a large console to control it and a future Gallery Organ. The instrument, now in production in the Builder’s workshops in Champaign, Illinois will bear Opus 40 and 40-R numbers (the “R” designation is for the Apse Organ which incorporates pipework from the Abbey’s former Moller Organ.) The new instrument is scheduled for completion by Easter of 2014.  The tonal specification was designed in collaboration with the Community’s Organist, The Rev. Cyprian Constantine, OSB; the visual design was a collaborative effort between the Builder and The Rev. Vincent Crosby, the Community’s Artistic Director.  The project is being administered by The Rt. Rev. Douglas Nowicki, OSB, Archabbot, and Mr. Paul Whiteside, Director of Development. In addition, to the students receiving a minor in sacred music are delighted as are the various vocal ensembles. The Saint Vincent College Concert Series will celebrate the new organ with a performance by Alan Morrison at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2015, and the Saint Vincent Camerata will perform two concerts celebrating the new organ, the first “Rejoice at the Sound of the Pipe!” on Saturday, Nov. 8 and the second on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6 and 7, “Festival of Lessons and Carols.” To learn more,

Sewickley Academy – the science building at Sewickley Academy has been completely renovated and features new extended and flexible classroom/lab combinations designed specifically for learning both theory and experimentation, individually, in teams and in collaboration. By using the Microsoft® Surface laptop computers, students can access and use a variety of scientific equipment also known as “probeware.” Probeware is scientific equipment which allows probes to be interfaced with software and computer systems for the purpose of collecting, interpreting, and analyzing data. In addition to its bio/chem core, Sewickley Academy is also offering a complete array of diverse tri-mester electives including ecology, intro to forensics, experimental design, astronomy, modern physics which examines quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity, and much more. To learn more about Sewickley Academy,

Shady Side Academy – Shady Side Academy Middle School has renovated science labs that bring the school’s science facilities up to par with its high caliber science programs and extra-curricular science activities including robotics, rocketry and their championship Science Olympiad teams which use the labs at the end of the school day and on weekends. The robotics team competes regionally and has been invited to the Western PA Championship at the National Robotics Center in CMU. The team designs and build a robot that completes a specific task completely out of Lego’s®. In rocketry, students compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge that is sponsored by the aerospace industry. The students design, build and fly a model rocket that must reach a certain altitude, stay aloft for a certain duration and land. The Science Olympiads encompass 23 different events that focus on different areas of science. The team has won regionally, gone on to both states where only the top two teams go on to nationals and where they have competed nine times in the past twelve years. To learn more, visit


Vincentian Academy - Chem Lab

Vincentian Academy – Chem Lab

Vincentian Academy – Construction is underway for more facilities upgrades at Vincentian Academy. This fall the Academy will offer a brand new Chem Lab.  The lab will transform Vincentian Academy into a 21st century facility that supports contemporary science instruction, provide students access to the latest digital technologies, cutting-edge experiment equipment, current computer simulations and enhanced safety features.  Vincentian Academy’s esteemed faculty will also be trained in new technologies that will develop curriculums based on problem solving and exploratory learning. In addition, Vincentian Academy will offer a second language at the Academy in 2014-15 School Year.  The expansion of the language program at Vincentian Academy will now offer French I.  In addition to the new language being offered, Vincentian Academy’s Spanish curriculum will become even stronger with new features.  This summer, Vincentian Academy’s Spanish Faculty member, Beverly Buxareo, traveled to Spain to study new curriculum innovations that will enhance the foreign language curriculum at the Academy.  The enhancements will create innovative teaching methods for foreign language development, while fostering educational excellence in the classroom for global competitiveness in foreign language studies. To learn more or to schedule a tour, visit

Western PA Montessori School – The name Montessori itself is synonymous with innovation. Dedicated to creating a love of learning in children during the foundation years, Western PA Montessori School accepts children from 20 months to six years old. Celebrating, its 50th year, Western PA Montessori School continues focusing learning through a self-paced process for each child. Teachers are expert in keeping detailed records on each child’s progress, activities, and their own observations of child’s preferred method of learning. In addition to letters, numbers, sounds, reading, writing, mathematics and much more, the children are taught respect, respect for themselves, others, the materials, and even their environment. Since 3, 4 and 5 year olds learn together, many times the younger children learn from the older children. Western PA Montessori School is noted for having a peaceful and calm educational environment. To learn more, register or to schedule a tour, visit

If you are offering an innovative program or extra-curricular activities for the coming school year, be sure and be featured in our September’s special back-to-school issue, contact us by emailing or calling 724-940-2444.