West Allegheny School District Receives $729,128 National Math + Science Initiative Grant
for College Readiness Program
West Allegheny School District has been selected to receive a three-year $729,128 college readiness grant from the National Math + Science Initiative (NMSI). The grant award for year one is $228,606, year two is $236,067, and year three is $264,456. NMSI’s College Readiness Program strives to elevate the rigor of public education and student performance in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related fields, utilizing result-based accountability to prepare students for college and careers in a competitive global market.
The NMSI award provides a capstone to the college readiness work currently underway at West Allegheny High School. The District is committed to focusing on key indicators for preparing every West Allegheny student for the rigors of post-secondary education whether it is college or a 21st-century career. Although the Keystone Exams are a valuable indicator and West Allegheny is ranked fifth in the region, the District is striving to raise the bar and attain top ranking on college readiness indicators such as SAT scores and qualifying AP scores. West Allegheny High School’s work encompasses refining graduation expectations to include four credits in each content area with all students taking progressively more difficult courses throughout their high school years. The high school team also made course modifications to streamline access to AP courses as well as required students to take the AP Exam as part of the course.
The high school was the recipient of a Grainger Foundation grant in the amount of $5,000 in support of The Challenge Program, Inc., and its mission to build sustainable Business/Education partnerships, while introducing West Allegheny students in grades 10, 11 and 12 to career opportunities within the community. The program is designed to bridge the divide between education and business by motivating students in five categories: attendance, STEM, community service, academic improvement and academic excellence.
Be There, The United Way
The high school received a $500 grant from the United Way’s Be There campaign in support of the District’s attendance initiative. An additional $500 of in-kind materials were donated through the grant to provide rewards for ninth grade students achieving goals in such categories as perfect, outstanding and most improved attendance.
The District was awarded a $10,000 Performance Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Bureau of Special Education. The Performance Grant: School Based Behavioral Health (Establishment of PBIS) will support both Wilson Elementary and the middle school in their implementation of School Wide Positive Behavior Support Systems through ongoing programming and professional development specific to both schools.
West Allegheny partners with Carnegie Science Center to provide STEM Excellence Pathway
West Allegheny was recently selected by the Carnegie Science Center as one of 10 regional schools to participate in a partnership to provide professional learning through the implementation of the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Excellence Pathway Program offers resources and a “strategic planning process” to K-12 schools for improving their STEM education.
The partnership will provide:
· Staff support from Carnegie Science Center throughout the Pathway implementation to help guide the process, connect regional resources, assist with the sharing of best practices, and provide professional development opportunities
· Online technical tools for the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway
· An onsite Science on the Road outreach program for students
· A $3,000 mini-grant to support improvement efforts based on priorities
In collaboration with the Grable Foundation, Harvard University and Quaker Valley School District, West Allegheny Middle School received a grant for $5,000 to conduct an club open to all students. The two programs ran for 12 weeks and included students from sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. One of the programs consisted of the study of epic battles within the history of our country. The other program consisted of the creation of a blog centered around the appreciation for nature and outdoor experiences such as geocaching, camping, and fishing. Both after school clubs reported successful first year experiences for students and staff.
Full STEAM Ahead
Math teacher Colleen Barnes recently received a $2,000 Unsung Heroes grant from Voya Financial to fund a Full STEAM Ahead Lab at the high school. The lab will allow students to conduct experiments and work through real-life applications of the math concepts they are learning. By purchasing additional equipment and software, all of the high school math teachers will have access to the technology with the goal of engaging students in math as it applies to science, the arts, and engineering. The teachers envision students at all levels working collaboratively on the same lab to enhance their diverse backgrounds. The project is still in the running for additional funding awards.
District Safe Schools Grant The District was awarded a Safe Schools Grant for $25,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The grant will be used to install a new surveillance security system at Donaldson Elementary School, as well as upgrade components of the existing system. These improvements align to the District’s commitment to student and staff safety.
Lowe’s Greenhouse Grant The West Allegheny High School was awarded a $4,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grant for the purchase of a greenhouse. The greenhouse will be used to start vegetable plants for the community garden located at Wilson Elementary School. The garden supplies fresh produce to local food pantries and families in need. The project will be overseen by the high school Environment Club, and will be incorporated into the biology curriculum as an outdoor classroom.