"Homework. Just Do it."
Those were the words proclaimed with enthusiasm by Pittsburgh Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Linda Lane as she addressed the children and their parents at the Greater Beltzhoover Inter-Agency Network meeting Sept. 4 at the McKinley Park Recreation Center.
Dr. Lane was the special guest speaker from the city school system during the GBIAN's ninth annual "Meet the Principals" night that is held every September through program facilitator Dennis O. Brooks, Jr. and assistant facilitator Jon Hairston who is also the program director for One Small Step.
Dr. Lane's message was a take-off of the Michael Jordan inspired Nike commercials. "Just Do It' has been the catch-phrase used in the Nike advertising campaign for years to inspire young people to greatness on the athletic field/arena.
Dr. Lane believes in a similar sentiment about education for the young people in the city schools. Dr. Lane, like the principals from the local schools who also spoke at the gathering, feels strongly that community/parent involvement is crucial for young people to achieve at school.
The long-time school administrator wanted to know how many in the audience had children attending Pittsburgh Public Schools this year, so she asked for a show of hands.
A few dozen hands were raised which pleased her.
"Thank you for trusting us," Dr. Lane said. "That's a big deal. We take [the responsibility of educating your children] very seriously."
Dr. Lane noted the Pittsburgh Promise program that helps pay for the college education of the district's high school graduates, is only useful to those who take advantage of the program by staying in school.
Dr. Lane said it is vital that students are "Promise Ready' when they are about to enter high school which means they should be able to read, write and do math at the expected levels of proficiency at the middle school level.
"It's great to have community involvement," Dr. Lane said.
Other speakers at the event representing the city schools included the principals of Grandview Elementary (Dr. Ethel Flam), Arlington K-8 (Dr. Cindi Muehlbauer), Carmalt K-8 (Dr. Sandra Och), Brashear High (John Vater) and Carrick High (Dr. Jennifer Murphy). Also speaking to the audience was school board member Mark Brentley; Eddie Jones, project manager of the Pittsburgh Promise and LouAnn Zwieryznki, the PELA resident principal in training at South Hills Middle school.
Ms. Zwierynzki attended the event as a representative for South Hills principal Dr. Deborah Ann Cox who could not attend due to a schedule conflict.
The administrators all voiced the same basic message about parental involvement with each child's education.
"I am approachable," Mr. Vater said. "We believe in relationship building as part of the Brashear family."
"We need your help," Dr. Murphy said, noting that it is the parent/guardian's responsibility that each child arrives at school on time and is dressed appropriately.
Other speakers at the GBIAN event included City Councilman Bruce A. Kraus, State Senator Wayne Fontana, Connie Wellons of the Beltzhoover Community Development Corp.; Leah Gally, coordinator of the Tickets for Kids Foundation; Zone 3 Police Officer Christine Luffey and Steve Hutter, executive director of Elder-ado, Inc.