‘Bright Spots’ video highlights pandemic innovations at South Hills schools

In a year interrupted by a global health crisis, 19 school districts within the South Hills Area School Districts Association (SHASDA), provided numerous innovative and creative opportunities for their learners.

The following “Bright Spots” video demonstrates the abilities of caring and dedicated public educators to heed a call to action in a time of uncertainty within their educational organizations.

Watch the video here or read on to learn how these schools overcame the year’s many hurdles.

At Fort Cherry, the educators rallied together to organize and modernize in a matter of weeks and months which allowed the District to continue without missing a beat!

Canon McMillan also took great pride in their educators’ abilities to continue programming by facing every challenge with flexibility, grace, and kindness.

West Allegheny continued its history of excellence through the dedication of educators to be committed and caring to all students and parents.

And Elizabeth Forward’s futuristic thinking and learner-centered model allowed for a continuation of best practices and continuity of instruction.

At Baldwin Whitehall, the use of a new learning management system, Canvas, made a lasting difference in their District’s delivery of instruction, with a digital teaching capacity built through teachers teaching teachers.

While South Allegheny capitalized on this time to focus efforts on upgrading multiple learning spaces, to provide more opportunities for engagement and real-world experiences for students.

How schools excelled beyond the limits

Any story of success this year most importantly includes the embracing of technology–for both remote and in-person learning to excel beyond the limits.

Chartiers Valley rolled out a one-to-one device initiative at each school for the 2020-2021 school year, which created a positive impact on all educational programs.

The proud students of Brentwood High School learned how to work collaboratively without being together physically to prepare for the 2021 F1 in Schools World Competition, which will be held virtually in London, England.

Clairton High School was able to continue its partnerships with Carnegie Mellon University and the Boys and Girls Club of Western PA to learn how circuits work in robotic systems while developing leadership skills along the way.

Ringgold High School continued its utilization of the compact Sphero Sprk+ robot and took advantage of the program’s ability for peers to collaborate virtually.

In Peters Township, Pleasant Valley Elementary School made digital learning engaging and enjoyable for the students by using the Chatter Pix app to transform a research project on George Washington into a talking presentation.

And while students at South Park Elementary remained home, one teacher partnered with local businesses to bring the adventure, discovery, and fun of a field trip to her students every week!

How schools focused on their communities

The pandemic has forced all of us into new roles, but one thing that remained constant–public school districts have remained focused on their communities.

The students and educators at Carlynton emphasized the importance of building relationships through virtual instruction to achieve excellence while continuing to care for one another.

West Jefferson was able to develop and expand their “Chill” program in partnership with AHN to help support families in crisis while teaching students and staff coping strategies that can be used in everyday life.

South Fayette High School continued to raise money to combat childhood cancer through a hybrid Mini-THON. The annual fundraising event took place in 2020 and will continue in 2021 and beyond!

And the Bethel Park School District students embraced the challenges of COVID by developing a web-based “dashboard” to communicate COVID-related data to their community.

How schools helped the arts flourish

Through this all, many South Hills School Districts found new ways for the arts to flourish in virtual settings.

The Keystone Oaks elementary musical team put their heads together and developed a plan to continue the musical program, despite the challenging circumstances, by presenting “Press Start,” a musical play inspired by iconic video game characters that will be released for audiences to view online.

Upper Saint Clair added a little foodie flair to their students’ lives with a self-paced culinary skills course served with a side of self-discipline, time management, and self-regulation.

Mount Lebanon also found that the arts can feed the soul in challenging times, and established ways to refresh and revive their ensembles so that these programs could survive and thrive even in a pandemic.

These shining examples are the heroic efforts of innovative, caring, and dedicated educators who are meeting the needs of children, families and communities each and every day.