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Student, Teacher Input Focus Of Pittsburgh Public Superintendent’s First 3 Months

Sarah Schneider
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools’ new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, now a month into the job, said student and teacher input will be essential to the district's strategic plan going forward. 

In an update to the school board Tuesday, he called the first phase of his 90-day transition plan, “a listening tour.”

“We must focus on teacher input and best practices when we consider introducing more research-based, proven models that drive student outcomes,” Hamlet said. “But, you must do this by a bottom-up approach with our best teachers taking a leadership role in the conversation.”

Board members praised Hamlet’s commitment to hearing what students and teachers have to say about the direction of the district.

“It’s refreshing. It’s encouraging,” said board member Thomas Sumpter. “To see goals (the board set before the search) still standing and setting the framework … that’ something you don’t write at one point in time, but you write it to stand the test of time.”

Hamlet said he’s visited 20 of the district’s 54 schools and scheduled nine district-wide community forums. The first forum will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 25 at Pittsburgh Obama Academy in East Liberty.

Credit Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh Superintendent Anthony Hamlet answers questions following his presentation of the goals for the first three months in his position.

He also met with Mayor Bill Peduto and other community leaders, as well as each board member, to discuss goals.

Board president Regina Holley said the biggest job Hamlet will have is relationship building.

“It’s not that we haven’t had it in the past, but (the transition plan) is upfront,” she said. “We see you actually doing that. Building bridges between groups that haven’t had bridges built between them before.”

Hamlet said a critical component to transformation in his tenure will be elevating the student voice.

“When young people see that their opinions and needs matter, they have increased ownership in their own learning,” he said. “Engaging students in this transformation work will help them cultivate relationships and contribute to their communities while in school.”

Hamlet's transition plan requires filling several open positions, including chief academic officer, executive director of equity, chief of school performance and chief of human resources. According to the plan, Hamlet is bringing back the position of chief academic officer, “in order to emphasize the importance of academics.”

Credit Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet will present an update to the board in November 2016.

As far as the district’s budget, Hamlet’s action items include reviewing union contracts, pay structures and salary schedules.

The transition plan includes a review and assessment of the district by the Council of Great City Schools. The board approved a $156,500 contract for that work in July.

Greenway Strategy Management will use that assessment to help develop the district’s five-year strategic plan.

Sarah Schneider is WESA's education reporter. From early learning to higher education, Sarah is interested in students and educators working to create more equitable systems. Sarah previously worked with news outlets in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Idaho. She is a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale where she worked for the school newspaper, the Daily Egyptian.
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