Propel Schools

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Jeremy Resnick co-founded Propel Charter Schools in the basement of a Homestead hospital more than 16 years ago, and helmed the organization as it's expanded to 4,000 students in 13 distinct schools.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A small group of students at Propel Montour are eating their way around the world this year. It’s not a new cafeteria option, it’s a lesson in inclusion.

The idea for the Taste the World program, run by school integration specialist Robyn Doyle, started simply enough.

“It stemmed from students just sharing interests in what I was bringing for lunch,” Doyle said.

The group meets once a week during lunch hour. Each student had to submit a short essay as to why he or she should be chosen to be part of the group.

Kris Knieriem / Hightail

Volunteers painted a vibrant mural at Propel Pitcairn charter school Wednesday in hopes of encouraging students to read more.

 Artist Lynne Mack said she hopes her colorful work, featuring bright-eyed animals gathering books, will inspire kids to read.

“Everything I do, I make gender neutral so that it appeals to both boys and girls,” she said. “They get so excited, they’ll touch it and point to (the animals). They just get so excited about seeing it.”

The mural is on a wall near the entrance to a first grade classroom, so students in all grades will walk past it.

Preparing And Retaining Urban Teachers

Feb 29, 2016
Norton Gusky / flickr

A 2015 report by the National Center for Education Statistics stated that 17 percent, or one out of six, of teachers leave the profession within four years, with one out of ten doing so after the first year alone. These high rates are even worse for urban schools, with Pittsburgh Public Schools seeing an average turnover rate of 22 percent over the last three years. 90.5 WESA’s Kevin Gavin spoke with Shirley Johnson, professor of education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Randy Bartlett, senior director of teacher residency at Propel Charter Schools, about what can be done to better prepare urban educators.

Students attending 15 area charter schools collected $11,000 for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund to help ensure the estimated 3,000 homeless students in Allegheny County receive a proper education.

“The students grabbed the idea,” said Jeremy Resnick, executive director and co-founder of Propel Schools. “They did everything from penny wars between classrooms to putting on a big art show and selling tickets for it. There was just a huge range of activity across the schools that the students led, and it’s inspiring.”