The Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel continues to be a vital part of Pittsburgh and our City High Community

On Friday, Feb. 8th, the City High Internship Department was gifted a donation from the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel. The hotel named the internship department their 4th quarter recipient for their national Sage Hospitality Fundraising Program. City High has received an annual gift from the hotel every year since 2009.

Over the years, the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel has helped City High in many aspects, including sending Graduation Project panelists and hosting City High interns on a regular basis.

We are honored to have the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel as a community partner. Thank you for all of your support!

Posted in Honors and Awards, Internship Sites, News, Partnerships |

A teaching internship helps Alexa Belschner redirect her career to a different aspect of early childhood education.

From left to right: Mentor Lindsay Kiss, Director of The Goddard School, Alexa Belschner, and Shanna Litchko, On-site Owner at The Goddard School in Pittsburgh at 301 Fifth Avenue.

As far as she could remember, Alexa Belschner has always been good with kids. For this City Charter High School student, an internship in early childhood education was a no-brainer. After all, she’s been working with children through her church since 6th grade.

“I wanted to learn what it would be like to be around kids all the time in a school setting.” Alexa says, “I wanted to learn what tactics they used for challenging kids. Most of all, I was interested in finding out if this is something I wanted to do as a career.” Alexa was very excited about working with children using The Goddard School’s F.L.EX learning framework. She was intrigued by the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) approach using games and play to expose young children to science and math. With her goals looking towards psychology, she was also thrilled to find out she would get to work with a teacher there, helping with students that had learning disabilities. Her internship helped her to understand and connect with those students and motivate them to join in with the learning program.


From left to right: Alexa Belschner and Mentor Lindsay Kiss, Director of The Goddard School show off the climbing wall in the large playroom.

From left to right: Alexa Belschner and Mentor Lindsay Kiss, peaking through The Goddard School’s oversized building toys.

For Alexa her internship helped her to understand
and connect with those students and motivate
them to join in with the learning program.

According to Lindsay Kiss, Director of The Goddard School where Alexa interned, “We have the highest expectations – not only for our students, but for our teachers. We bring in highly qualified teachers because we want to give our kids the best foundation we can to make them successful. Alexa did a great job interacting with the students. She’d have things under control. I kind of forgot a lot of the time that she wasn’t one of my regular teachers because she did such a great job. She fit in really well.”

This glowing endorsement made it difficult for Alexa. On one hand, she had a way with kids. On the other, she really liked and excelled at math and science.  Her internship was invaluable in helping to choose a direction. She admits, “ It really requires a high level of patience to teach children, it was much more than I had expected, I really learned a lot about myself.” So instead of a teaching career, Alexa plans to explore genetic counseling in college. This career direction will allow her to continue to help educate young children, while using her math and science research skills to get to the root causes of early childhood development issues like autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia and others.

“Before my internship I was going to go into child psychology and child development in a school setting. After my internship, I changed what I wanted to do,” Alexa notes. “I’m looking to study biology for 4 years and then do the master’s program in genetic counseling. I felt that if I move more into a science field, I could make a big difference.”

For this City High student with a 3.82 GPA, “dream boards” and career classes really helped hone her direction. The way she sees it, “I’m also really interested in psychology, the brain and how it works to influence behavior. . . and I already work with kids, so why not put that together and do child psychology from a biological research side.”

Alexa learned other valuable life skills at City High. “I used to be pretty shy,” she recalls. “But at City High, we had to learn presentation and interaction skills. In 11th grade career class, we had to go out and find somebody in our career field and interview them one-on-one. I picked a Neuropsychologist from Allegheny Healthcare network. And that helped make me get used to talking with professionals. I had to prepare questions, email them to him in advance, and that really helped with me being able to talk to professional adults.” It was these skills that put her at ease about working with not only the kids, but also the adults at her required internship.

About The Goddard School

The Goddard School is an early childhood education provider with more than 400 franchised schools in 35 states. Students range from 6 weeks old to Pre-K.  There are 7 schools in the Pittsburgh area and City Charter High School has partnered with the Downtown location for the past 3 years as a way to give real-world teaching experience to some of their high school students considering a career in education.

At this innovative school where everybody is referred to as a “friend”, it’s all about creating a fun learning experience. But it’s not all fun and games, it’s serious learning. “The teachers are asking a lot of questions while they’re playing,” reveals Lindsay Kiss, Director of The Goddard School. “For the older students, it’s a lot of center-based learning, where the teacher sets out materials at different tables in different areas of the classroom that are related to the lesson plans of the day and the students are free to move through those centers. For instance, if they are working on the letter A, they might have them writing it on a dry erase board, searching through the sensory bin for things that start with the letter A, exploring the characteristics of apples, different things like that. So, the centers and the play that the kids are doing is very education-focused. It’s so much more than pulling toys off the shelves at random and playing with them.”

For nearly 30 years, the Goddard School has been known for its innovative, learning-based approach to early childhood development: learning through play. This play-based curriculum is grounded in academic research that shows children experience the deepest, most genuine learning when they are having fun.

According to Mrs. Kiss, who was also mentor to Alexa Belschner, City High’s most recent intern, “We bring in teachers who really care about what they do in making sure that our kids are School-ready, Life-ready and Career-ready.”

If this sounds like a motto, it is. And it is what sets these preschools apart. The Goddard School uses the most current, academically endorsed methods to ensure that children have fun while learning the skills they need for long-term success in school and in life. Their talented teachers also collaborate with parents to nurture children into respectful, confident and joyful learners.

To learn more:

Ready for School, Ready for Life, Ready for Careers.

Posted in Honors and Awards, Internship Sites, News, Partnerships, Student Spotlight |

City High’s Jacob Osho gains a global perspective through his amazing internship.

Intern Jacob Osho stops for  photos with his mentors from the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. From left to right:  Brittany Cheeks, Education Program Manager, Intern Jacob Osho from City High and Joe Poskin, Office Manager at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

When City Charter High School senior Jacob Osho showed up for his first workplace experience, an internship at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, he made a fantastic first impression. “From the very first day (and I’m not exaggerating), I was impressed with Jacob’s professionalism,” reports Brittany Cheeks, Education Program Manager at the World Affairs Council. “He was on-time (if not early). He would always check in with me. No matter what I asked him to help me with, he was very responsive and eager to help. This was remarkable, especially at his high school age. He took this seriously. I could tell by the way he holds himself, the way he would dress to come into the internship every day.”

Thanks to the exposure of world issues at his World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh internship and his Honors History class at City High, Jacob already has his doctorate thesis topic: the effects of immigration (including dislocation, social, political, and economic conditions and experiences of immigrant communities) on gang formation and gang violence.

From left to right: Brittany Cheeks,
Education Program Manager with Jacob Osho
from City Charter High School.

Joe Poskin, the Council’s office manager agrees. “We’ve had quite a few interns since I’ve been here and every day he would come in, say hello, shake my hand, ask how I was doing. . . and if I needed help with anything. It’s not that common for young people to have that skill.”

According to Jacob, “I was a part of the family. Their expectations of me? To come on time, do my best work – to always stay productive and helpful and always try to do my best.” This sounds great, but what does it really mean for a high school student?

Ms. Cheeks, his mentor, says, “He worked with us primarily in the education department where he helped us make changes to the GLC (Global Leadership Certificate) curriculum, both on-site and online.”

She had him create a Spanish lesson to implement with their on-site students. He also helped with their Global Travel Scholarship Orientation (a summer long study-abroad program for high school students). He did research on the economic ramifications of “space mining” for their next World Affairs Institute. So he was a busy intern. How did he keep up? “By prioritizing work,” Jacob reports. “I’d have different things to do for different people. So staying organized helped me get my work done on time.”

These are skills he learned the hard way. When he got to City High, “My biggest challenge was adjusting.” Jacob remembers. “It was nothing like middle school. I had to get used to going to different places, different classes . . . It was hard for me to adjust to just how much I had to do . . . and stay focused on what I’m supposed to be doing. I struggled with that. Now, I feel like I have it under control.”

Jacob also picked up other valuable skills at City High that have come in handy. “Actively reading was a key skill that I learned at City High. It really helped me. Especially when I was doing the research for the article on spacing mining. By taking side notes (like I learned in Cult. Lit. Class), I was able to remember more. It definitely helped me plan an outline of what I learned and write a report that was detailed.”

Cultural Literacy is implemented into the curriculum at City High in order to help prepare students for their current studies but also to help ensure their success at college.

So, now that Jacob’s 140-hour internship is complete, what does the future hold? He’s applying to several universities for a degree towards Cultural Anthropology & Research in Psychology. Thanks to the exposure of his internship to world issues and his Honors History class at City High, Jacob already has his doctorate thesis topic: the effects of immigration (including dislocation, social, political, and economic conditions and experiences of immigrant communities) on gang formation and gang violence.

Jacob plans to focus on the research side of international anthropology as a professor. And who knows, maybe someday he will help us all understand and deal with the struggling plight of immigrants, gang violence and other developing world issues.

These are notable goals for a high school senior who’s also working on earning a scholarship from The Pittsburgh Promise. More personally, Jacob’s goals are  “. . .to try my hardest as soon as I get there, so I don’t have to dig myself out of a hole that I already created . . . to stay focused and get my work done on time. And try not to get sidetracked by different things. And at the end, I want to get my doctorate degree.”

“We studied gang violence in 11th grade in the context of immigration, exploring the context in which gangs can flourish,” Jacob reflects on his Honors History class. It made him passionate to pursue psychology and anthropology and even led him to his internship. It is yet another example of how City High opens the minds of students to fields they may never have considered.

About The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh

The World Affairs Council has been recognized as a leader in designing and developing educational programs on international affairs. Founded in 1929 by a small group of Pittsburgh residents with a deep interest in international issues, it has become a place for students, educators, and the community at large to learn about international developments and their relevance to Southwestern Pennsylvania.

In 2009, Pittsburgh served as the host of the G-20 Summit. This event helped underscore Pittsburgh’s place in the world and was a demonstration of how Pittsburgh has evolved from a city of iron and steel to a 21st century post-industrial city.

The Council continues to develop innovative programs to engage students, educators, and the community at large in an ongoing conversation about global issues—and why they matter.
The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh’s mission is to provide a pathway for a more globally minded region, offering students and the community a learning space that covers key international issues. The Council is a member of the World Affairs Council of America (WACA), a network of more than 90 nonprofit, nonpartisan member Councils around the country.

Upcoming Programs


  • 24:  The Policy and Politics of US Nuclear Strategy
    12:00-1:30 pm., Duquesne Club
  • 24:  Special Seminar: Russian Active Measures and Lessons from the Cold War with Dr. Seth Jones, Director of the Transnational Threats Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies and Author of A Covert Action: Reagan, the CIA, and the Cold War Struggle in Poland.
    6:30-8:00 pm., La Roche College


  • 30:  World Affairs Institute for Student Leaders: Exploring the New Space Age.  Experts speak on the current state of space exploration, including commercial human spaceflight, space colonization, and the use of robotics and artificial intelligence.
    8:30 am- 3:00 pm., Heinz History Center

Additional events may be added and can be found on our website at


Posted in Honors and Awards, Internship Sites, News, Partnerships, Student Spotlight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

City Charter High School is honored with Children’s Hospital Community Partner of the Year Award.

Patti Kretschman, Internship Manager of City High with
Children’s Hospital volunteer coordinator John Krysinky.

City Charter High School is ecstatic to be honored by Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC as a “Community Partner of the Year.” We are not only honored by the recognition, but also thankful for the wonderful experience and mentorship that Children’s Hospital who are looking towards the medical and childcare field as their career interests. Internship Manager Patti Kretschman accepted the award on behalf of City High on Saturday evening.

Patti Kretschman poses with City Charter High School Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh — UPMC’s Volunteer Services Department 2018 Community Partner of the Year Award.

Children’s Hospital has been an internship site partner with City High since the school’s inception, with the first internship in 2005. No interns were at the hospital during the hospital’s two-year move to its new and current site in Lawrenceville, which opened in 2009.

The Community Partner of the Year award recognizes an exemplary community partnership that has provided innovative projects and programs, and whose members have contributed significant hours of service that have made a positive impact on the patients and families of Children’s Hospital. The award was started in 2013, and the Volunteer Service Department of the hospital has honored an organization each year since that has been an important part of the Hospital Volunteer Program.

Our school is thrilled to be named this year’s “Community Partner of the Year” and look forward to our continued collaboration with Children’s Hospital in the years to come and are excited to see our students continue to flourish in their internships at the hospital.


Posted in Honors and Awards, News |

City High seniors’ presentation “GOT PRIVILEGE?” is a big hit at Ellis School’s Cultural Jam!

From L to R: Destiny Troy,  London Brooks, Crystal Cox and McKenna Battista
present Got Privilege? at Ellis School’s Cultural Jam.

For the purpose of workshop discussions, participants wrote down examples of how they have experienced the advantages and disadvantages of privilege

Senior Crystal Cox

Senior McKenna Battist

A group of seniors collaborated to create a workshop titled “Got Privilege?” to examine different types of privilege in our society and how people benefit from them, as well as how people are hurt and held back by them.

The seniors submitted a proposal to present the workshop at the Ellis School’s Culture Jam this past November. Not only was their presentation accepted for the workshop, it turned out to be a big hit!

Many participants remarked that it was their favorite workshop and a few participants even cried because they were so moved by the discussions. Presenters included seniors McKenna Battista, Crystal Cox, Destiny Troy, and London Brooks. These students worked together and presented at the Culture Jam. The group was led by Crystal and McKenna, who played a large role in the planning and creating materials and activities to use in the presentation.

Next Stop is the L.E.A.D. Conference

The next stop for Crystal and McKenna? Presenting their workshop at another diversity conference in March at Sewickley Academy. The L.E.A.D. (Learning Equity, Acceptance and Diversity) Conference on Wednesday, March 14, and is put on by Sewickley’s Student Diversity Club. The two City Charter High School seniors submitted a proposal in December, and were chosen to be one of the student-led workshops. It is among 26 student-led workshops at the conference, including students from Sewickley Academy, Shadyside Academy, Winchester Thurston, Ellis School, Kiski Prep, Woodland Hills, and CAPA.

While students partake in student-led workshops and share their experiences and stories, teachers and chaperones will attend workshops to address the same themes in the student-led workshops, and relate them to their own teaching and practices. There will also be a keynote speaker.

Sewickley Academy welcomes schools throughout the Pittsburgh region and beyond to their conference, including public, private, and independent schools will attend. For more information and to register for the conference, please visit Registration is required, and there is a limit of 20 students per school.

Posted in Honors and Awards, News, Partnerships, Student Spotlight |

The Robert F. Kennedy Urban Education Award, Mr. Mark Barga, City Charter High School Social Studies Teacher, Selected as the Schools That Can 2017 Robert F. Kennedy Urban Educator

The Schools That Can Forum is an annual, public conference with sessions led and attended by top urban educators from STC schools, innovative education organizations, thought leaders, industry, and community partners. STC held this year’s national annual Forum in Pittsburgh on May 11, 2017.

Mr. Mark Barga receives the Robert F. Kennedy Urban Education Award on behalf of Schools That Can and the STC Pittsburgh Forum. From L to R: Michael Druckman, STC Executive Chairman; Leslie Hiner, Ed Choice Vice President; Mark Barga, City Charter High School Social Studies Teacher; Casey Lamb, STC Chief Operations and Development Officer

Mr. Mark Barga, City Charter High School Social Studies Teacher and Class of 2019 Cultural Literacy Team member, was nominated and won the prestigious national Robert F. Kennedy Urban Educator Award.

This year’s awards were presented to a student, teacher, and school leader from the STC network who have spoken up and spoken out to defend freedom, decency, and justice. 

Schools That Can received dozens of nominees. Specifically, nominees embody Robert F. Kennedy’s quote made as Attorney General in June 1961:

“Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted—when we tolerate what we know to be wrong—when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened—when we fail to speak up and speak out—we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.

Mr. Barga exposes students to rigorous, diverse, and critical social, political, economic, and historical perspectives in pursuit of a deeper, relevant engagement with themselves and society. His call to teaching urban youth springs from an intense commitment to social justice for a healthier, more equitable, more just and more democratic society.

City Charter Public High Schools applauds Mark’s recognition as an outstanding educator for the 21st Century, engaging all students in relevant and real world learning that is making a positive difference both in the classroom and the world in which our students will live and eventually lead.

Schools That Can (STC) is the nation’s largest cross-sector network of schools with over 170 schools in 16 cities, reaching more than 70,000 students. Their programming, partnerships, and thought leadership develop tangible solutions to close the opportunity and skills gap in urban education

Posted in Honors and Awards, News, Partnerships |

Pennsylvania releases public schools’ report card—City Charter High School scoring 89.9 out of 100. This is the highest score in the Pittsburgh Public School District and 8th highest in all High Schools across Allegheny County!


City High graphic: Top high school Performance Profile scores in Allegheny County

October 14, 2016 | Molly Born, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Made public Thursday, this year’s School Performance Profile includes for the first time the scores from the new Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests for grades K-8 that educators say are more rigorous than the old exam. And because the PSSA and other standardized tests, the Keystone exams for high school students, make up such a large part of the profile score, some districts said they expected a lower profile scores. (Only high schools were included in the profiles last year.)

City Charter High School in Downtown, which enrolls roughly 620 students — nearly 70 percent of them low-income — sent a press release out Thursday afternoon touting its School Performance Profile score of 89.8.

“This is our highest SPP score ever,” and the highest among high schools in the city of Pittsburgh, said CEO and principal Ron Sofo. “We don’t think we’re all that, but we do believe that we’re walking that talk with integrity, which is what charter schools were initially envisioned to be.”

Read full article from the Post-Gazette


PG graphic: School
Performance Profile scores
(Click to enlarge)


Posted in Honors and Awards, News |

The Child Health Association of Sewickley awards grant of $8,500 helping City High students’ with basic needs

The grant will help all students with basic needs from 2016-2018.

City High has a 68% financial and socially disadvantaged student population, and additionally many of their students are just slightly above the socioeconomic status for vouchers that provide free and reduced lunches or medical help such as eyeglasses. City High saw a need, not only to provide those students with lunches or eyeglasses, but to also help any student struggling with the expectations of attending City High.

City High students’ financial obstacles include having the required professional business attire, daily money for school lunch, and a bus pass if they were deemed a walker, or financial help to attend school field trips. It also included medical expenses such as eyeglasses for students failing the school’s vision screening or providing feminine hygiene products.

Listening to teachers about their students’ struggles, City High decided to look for help beyond core academics. Alesha Council, Keiha Peck and Angela Welch of City High came together to write a grant proposal to the Child Health Association of Sewickley seeking financial help to provide basic needs and the support City High students needed.

grant-writers-cch_2475From L to R: City High Grant writers; Alesha Council—Transition Manager, Angela Welch—Education Manager, and Keiha Peck—Internship Manager.



Thanks to the grant from Child Health Association of Sewickley, City High will now be able to give students the support needed so they can reach their fullest potential.

Child Health Association of Sewickley

The Child Health Association of Sewickley is celebrating its 93rd anniversary as an all-volunteer non-profit women’s organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children in western Pennsylvania. Through charitable giving and volunteer service, Child’s Health’s mission is to nurture the whole child by supporting programs and services that directly address children’s emotional, physical, educational, cultural and recreational needs.

Founded in 1923 by four visionary women to provide milk to undernourished children, nearly 1,400 extraordinary women have expanded that vision through the years and exceed all expectations of what a small group of women can do.

The heart of Child Health today is as it has always been: supporting programs and services for children with real needs and programs to challenge and inspire children to reach their full potential. Early members could do much for children by funding well-baby and dental clinics, public health nurses for schools and community visits, fluoride treatment, polio vaccines, playgrounds, and a pacemaker, a birthing room and a neonatal monitor for the local hospital. Today, Child Health funds some large well-known organizations with established track records; however, it is our ability to help small grass-roots organizations that are addressing the emerging critical needs of the children that sets us apart from large corporate or private philanthropic foundations. After reviewing grant requests, visiting programs and interviewing staff, Child Health typically gives $100,000 annually to qualified organizations working directly with children. Through 2014, over $4 million (not adjusted for inflation) in grants have been awarded.

Posted in Honors and Awards, News |

Red Cross Honors Jaimere Washington —Youth Hero at Annual Heroes Breakfast

Red Cross Honors Nine at Annual Heroes Breakfast—Eight Heroes and a Community Leader Recognized at PNC Park Event.

Red Cross Youth Hero—Jaimere Washington

Jaimere Washington, a resident of the City of Pittsburgh and a student at City Charter High, has an engaging personality and a talent for communicating. A dedicated young man, he served an internship at the regional headquarters of the American Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania this year. Everyone who worked with Jaimere took an instant liking to him. He valued his internship and was honored to serve alongside Red Cross staff and volunteers. One of Jaimere’s favorite tasks was to call families who had been assisted by the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program. “It was an honor,” as he described it. In addition to his internship and school studies, Jaimere somehow finds time for church activities, in which he is very involved, along with a part-time job at McDonald’s. He values his brothers and sisters as mentors. Although his mother passed away a few years ago, he recalls her as his biggest inspiration. Jaimere aspires to attend college and major in Communications or another field that takes advantage of his skill as a communicator. Whatever he chooses to do in life, it is certain that Jaimere will be a success and an outstanding role model.


PITTSBURGH – The American Red Cross honored eight heroes and presented a Community Leadership Award at the Eighth Annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast on Thursday, Sept. 15, from 7:30 to 9 a.m., at the Rivertowne Brewing Hall of Fame Club at PNC Park on the North Shore.


WPXI-TV sportscaster Bill Phillips served as the emcee. In addition to honoring this year’s heroes, the Red Cross presented a Community Leadership Award to Lisa C. Epps, fire inspector, with the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire.

The event, a fundraiser for the American Red Cross of Southwestern Pennsylvania, is designed to honor everyday heroes in eight categories and to recognize an outstanding community leader. The heroes were selected by an independent panel of media representatives from nominations received from the public. The 2016 heroes include:

  1. Educator Hero: Robert M. Jones, Jr., President of Brothers and Sisters Emerging (B.A.S.E) and a Co-founder of Garfield Youth Sports
  2. Firefighter Hero: Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Firefighters Lt. James O’Toole, Nathan Oliver, Benjamin Sovyak and Edward Podgorski
  3. Good Samaritan Hero: Ian M. Heffernan, Customer Service Manager,
    Hermitage Wal-Mart Store
  4. Medical Professional Hero: James S. Withers, M.D., FACP,
    Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net
  5. Military Hero: M. Sgt. James P. Wilfrom, Jr., USMC
  6. Professional Responder Hero: Officer Kevin Cragle, Franklin Township, Beaver County
  7. Youth Hero: Jaimere Washington, City of Pittsburgh
  8. Lifetime Commitment to the Red Cross: Carol L. Adams, ALCOSAN, and Red Cross Volunteer

Launched in 2009, the Annual Heroes Breakfast has recognized a total of 50 heroes and five community leaders in eight years. This year’s event is sponsored by MSA, The Safety Company, Columbia Gas, Duquesne Light, University of Pittsburgh, UPMC and UPMC Health Plan. Support is also provided by the United Way of Allegheny County.

Listed below are the 2016 heroes’ stories:

Educator Hero, Robert M. Jones, Jr. – Bob Jones is President and CEO of Brothers and Sisters Emerging (B.A.S.E.), a non-profit organization formed to serve as the umbrella organization of Garfield Youth Sports (G.Y.S) which has been in existence for over 19 years. The mission of B.A.S.E. is to develop thriving African-American and other youth and their families in Garfield and surrounding at-risk neighborhoods to find and take advantage of opportunities available to them. The B.A.S.E. vision is that, through sports, mentoring, advocacy, and other activities, B.A.S.E. will assist youth and their families in achieving successful educational performance, acquire appropriate social and emotional skills, and attain a solid economic future. A co-founder of Garfield Youth Sports, Bob is a life-long resident of the Garfield community. Bob graduated from Peabody High School in 1987. He attended Waynesburg College (Waynesburg University), where he earned a B.A. in Public Service Administration. He played football in high school and college. Bob serves a volunteer football coach for the Garfield Gators and is an inspiring mentor and educator to youth both on and off the football field.

 Firefighter Heroes, Lt. James F. O’Toole, Nathan Oliver, Benjamin Sovyak, Edward Podgorski – On Jan. 1, 2016, Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire firefighters were called to respond to a house fire with possible entrapment in the 1000 block of Ross Avenue in Wilkinsburg. According to newspaper accounts, the firefighters responded within five minutes. Two adults and a nine-month-old made it out of the house safely, but an elderly resident was trapped on the second floor. Upon arriving at the scene, the firefighters moved quickly to prepare equipment and enter the structure. Once inside, Lt. O’Toole made it to the second floor where he found the 86-year-old woman in a smoke-filled bedroom. Although she was semi-conscious, Lt. O’Toole and Firefighter Benjamin Sovyak lifted her out of the window into the waiting hands of Firefighters Nathan Oliver and Edward Podgorski. After she was safely lowered to the ground, the firefighters re-entered the house from the second story window to join other firefighters in their efforts to suppress the fire. Encountering what is known as a “flashover”, the firefighters nearly became trapped as flames engulfed the first and second floors. The only choice for them was to jump from second-story windows. Fortunately, the elderly resident and all the firefighters survived, although seven of the firefighters sustained injuries with some of them in serious condition.

Good Samaritan Hero, Ian M. Heffernan – Even though it was early on the morning of New Year’s Day in 2016, overnight Customer Service Manager Ian M. Heffernan felt it had been an uneventful night at the Wal-Mart store in Hermitage. With just a couple hours left in the shift, someone entered the store and told employees there was a car on fire in the parking lot. He grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran outside. He found a car with the driver slumped over the steering wheel and flames leaping up from the front of the car. The driver had passed out with her foot on the accelerator. The car doors were locked, but a window was down far enough for Ian to reach in and unlock the door. He pulled the woman out of the car and helped her to safety in the store. “A lot of people have called me a hero…but I don’t feel like a hero…everyone, given the circumstances…if they had to perform a deed similar to mine, I know that they would,” he said.

Medical Professional Hero, James S. Withers, M.D., FACP – Dr. Jim Withers is founder and medical director of Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net. What began in 1992 as an educational experience for medical school students quickly grew into an award-winning, innovative, medical and social service outreach program for the unsheltered homeless population in Allegheny County. Since its founding, Operation Safety Net has reached approximately 10,000 homeless individuals with more than 68,000 visits where they live – in camps along riverbanks, in alleyways, or beneath bridges and highway overpasses – and has successfully helped more than 1,200 individuals who were once homeless to find homes of their own. In doing so, Operation Safety Net not only assists with providing health care and affordable housing, but also offers this vulnerable population hope, dignity, and a sense of community. Operation Safety Net is part of Pittsburgh Mercy and Trinity Health, serving in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy.

Military Hero, M. Sgt. James P. Wilfrom, Jr., USMC – On the afternoon of June 8, 2014, M. Sgt. James P. Wilfrom, Jr. was home on leave, relaxing at his parents’ home in Mt. Oliver. The family heard yelling outside and, when he went out to investigate, Sgt. Wilfrom heard calls for help. Several houses in the neighborhood were on fire. Running towards the fire, he was joined by neighbor Al Scroggins. They approached the home of Loretta Marburger who was trapped inside her smoke-filled home. A few minutes earlier, she smelled smoke and went outside to find her neighbors’ house on fire. She banged on their door to alert them and tried to get a garden house to douse the fire. The flames spread quickly to her home and she went back inside where she became trapped in the smoke-filled kitchen. Sgt. Wilfrom and Mr. Scroggins kicked in her front door and called out for her. They made it through the blinding smoke and heat to reach her in the back of the house. Coaxing her to leave the house, they took her by the arms and pulled her through the house to the front door where they collapsed in the front yard. In a just a few minutes, her house was engulfed in flames. She credits them both with saving her life. For Sgt. Wilfrom, this was the second time he had performed a heroic deed. In 1995 while stationed overseas, he saved several boys from drowning and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his bravery. When his commanding officer heard of Mrs. Marburger’s rescue, he put Sgt. Wilfrom in for a second Navy and Marine Corps Medal. Sgt. Wilfrom is only the third person to receive the medal twice.

Professional Responder Hero, Officer Ken Cragle – Officer Kevin Cragle, a full-time police officer with Koppel Borough Police Department, as well as part-time officer with the North Sewickley Township Police Department, had just returned home from a 4 p.m. to midnight shift. Shortly after he turned in for some much-needed rest, he was awakened by a very loud explosion. “The whole house shook,” he said. Running outside, he saw a neighbor’s car in flames. He was about to go back inside to call 9-1-1 when he saw an arm waving out the window. Sprinting towards the car, he saw a woman in the drivers’ seat with flames rapidly spreading to the front seat. It was later surmised that gasoline fumes from a gas can in the trunk of the car ignited, blowing out the windows and jamming the doors shut. Officer Cragle reached into the vehicle and pulled his neighbor through the window and dragged her to safety. She was disoriented and groggy from the explosion and had suffered burns, but was alive thanks to Officer Cragle.

Jaimere Washington

Youth Hero, Jaimere Washington—Jaimere Washington, a resident of the City of Pittsburgh and a student at City Charter High, has an engaging personality and a talent for communicating. A dedicated young man, he served an internship at the regional headquarters of the American Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania this year. Everyone who worked with Jaimere took an instant liking to him. He valued his internship and was honored to serve alongside Red Cross staff and volunteers. One of Jaimere’s favorite tasks was to call families who had been assisted by the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program. “It was an honor,” as he described it. In addition to his internship and school studies, Jaimere somehow finds time for church activities, in which he is very involved, along with a part-time job at McDonald’s. He values his brothers and sisters as mentors. Although his mother passed away a few years ago, he recalls her as his biggest inspiration. Jaimere aspires to attend college and major in Communications or another field that takes advantage of his skill as a communicator. Whatever he chooses to do in life, it is certain that Jaimere will be a success and an outstanding role model.

Lifetime Commitment to the Red Cross – Carol L. Adams joined the Red Cross as a volunteer in 2002. Her reasons for becoming involved with the Red Cross, however, were not the usual volunteer’s motivations. Carol, a senior systems analyst, disaster recovery/business continuity coordinator with

Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN), was interested in learning how to ensure employees would be prepared in the event of a disaster. She learned that and much more in the 14 years since she became a volunteer. Having served as a disaster volunteer and instructor, disaster preparedness and outreach volunteer, and government liaison among other duties, Carol has enjoyed a rich and fulfilling experience with the Red Cross. She invited the Red Cross to participate in ALCOSAN’s award-winning Annual Open House to showcase emergency preparedness and she continues to look for opportunities to engage the community with the Red Cross. She has many memorable volunteer experiences, among which is her service with Pennsylvania Emergency Management during the 2015 papal visit to Philadelphia. Carol describes the Lifetime Commitment to the Red Cross Hero Award as “one of those hugs that came back to me that – in a million years – I never would have expected.”

Community Leadership Award, Fire Inspector Lisa C. Epps – Lisa C. Epps, fire inspector with the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire, became a firefighter in 1990. She was looking for a career change and a job where she could help people and be out in the community. After 23 years as a master firefighter, Lisa joined the fire prevention office of the Bureau of Fire. In this role, Lisa works tirelessly in the community to enforce fire safety laws, and to teach fire prevention to children, adults and seniors. When she joined the Bureau as a firefighter, she was just one of two female firefighters in a male-dominated workforce. Lisa accepted the challenges of her job and worked hard to prove herself to her fellow firefighters. An accomplishment of which she is most proud is working with the City of Pittsburgh to provide separate sleeping and restroom facilities for female firefighters. Lisa has also been involved in recruiting new firefighters for the Bureau of Fire. Teaching fire safety is her passion and she has joined with the Red Cross in its Home Fire Campaign to install free smoke alarms in city residents’ homes, and teach them fire safety and prevention. This fall, the campaign is working actively in the Hill District, where there will be several fire safety events along with a smoke alarm installation event. Lisa has been a true leader in her profession as a firefighter and in ensuring the community is well educated about fire safety.


About the American Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania

The American Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania serves nearly 4 million people in 28 counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Somerset, Venango, Warren, Washington and Westmoreland. The Red Cross in Western Pennsylvania provides relief to the victims of approximately 1,100 disasters each year, supports and reaches out to local veterans and military families, and trains nearly 118,000 individuals in vital lifesaving skills such as CPR and First Aid. The American Red Cross is not a government agency, nor does it receive funding from its national headquarters except during times of large-scale disasters. It is only through the generosity of the people of Western Pennsylvania that the local Red Cross is able to fulfill its mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergenciesprevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergenciesprevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergenciesprevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies. For more information, please visit

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Thanks to the Ford Foundation, 15 City High students bring their visions to life at TechShop.

With funding from the Ford Foundation, TechShop has provided the innovators of tomorrow from City High with more than $1 million worth of professional equipment and software to help build their dreams. According to Bill Gearhart, Pittsburgh TechShop General Manager, “We are excited to partner with the Ford Foundation to offer full scholarships for students 9th-11th grade at City Charter High School in Pittsburgh.”

“Working with the City High students in the TechShop summer camp was an incredible experience.  As a STEAM Educator at TechShop, I have worked with students from across the city and I can honestly say that the City High students were among the most mature, engaged, and ambitious students that I have had the opportunity to work with.”

Erin Oldynski—STEAM Coordinator

Founded in 2010 and visited by President Obama in 2014 on an “innovation in manufacturing” promotional tour, TechShop offers year-round youth programs for 8 – 17 year olds through weekend, after school, in-school and summer camp programs. The idea is to engage young innovators in the engineering design process using 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC software, metalworking, and textile fabrication as well as plastics and electronic labs.

About the Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is the second-largest private foundation in the United States, with an endowment of $12 billion. Using these valuable financial resources to achieve the greatest possible impact, The Ford Foundation supports visionary leaders and organizations on the front lines of social change. So it is a perfect partner for the innovative education efforts at both the City Charter High School and Pittsburgh TechShop.

Meet some of tomorrow’s dreamers. See their vision come to life.

At TechShop, students have the opportunity, equipment and expertise to help bring their dreams to life. Here are some of the recent City High student achievements:

#CCH_3551Back Row: STEAM Educator Madeleine Campbell, TechShop Staff Justin Harvilla and Adam Petrashune, City High Student Kyesi Shackelford, Steven Mizgorski, Jessie Foley. Middle row: City High Students Chris Micknowski and Todd Best. Front Row: City High Students Ruqqiyah Mosley, Amelia Smith-Tine, Julia Imler, TechShop STEAM Coordinator Erin Oldynski.

Chris MicknowskiCart copyFrom left to right starting at the top of the photo: Steven Mizgorski and Chris Micknowski work with Jesse Foley and Kyesi Shackelford to make improvements to the TechShop PVC pipe go-cart. Steven Mizgorski also created a shirt, electronic watch, and laser cut birdhouse. Chris Micknowski also created a shirt, electronic watch, and laser cut birdhouse. Chris will also be joining Pittsburgh TechShop for the October after school program.

laserEtchErin Oldynski—STEAM Coordinator, with Ruqqiyah Mosley Shows off her laser cut wall clock created in Trotec Laser Cutter. She also created a shirt, a laser cut birdhouse, and 3D printed Krabby Patty, and laser cut pencil box
CityHighSolderingTechShopJulia Imler Learns electronics soldering using Arduino programmed circuit boards to create a personal electronic wristwatch. Julia also made an art collage, an acrylic sign and laser cut birdhouse.
3dprinterAmelia Smith-Tine uses a 3D-printer to create a solar system using TinkerCAD. WoodworkTodd Best with STEAM Educator Madeleine Campbell, shows off his laser cut shelf created in Trotec Laser Cutter. Todd also created a vinyl cut t-shirt, and a laser cut bird house.
TechShopCityHighKyesi Shackelford makes improvements to the TechShop PVC pipe go-cart, after completing a t-shirt, electronic watch, a 3D printed keychain, as well as a birdhouse and model car.

TheTechShop192 Bakery Square Boulevard


jessefoleyJesse Foley works on the TechShop PVC pipe go-cart, after completing a 3D modeled and printed Rubik’s cube


techshopdinasour copyThe TechShop—1600 Square Feet of Shop space


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