In this episode, Asia Mason, project manager of student voice with the Pittsburgh Public School District (PPS); Sam Bisno, a senior at the Barack Obama Academy of International Studies, also known as Pittsburgh Obama 6 – 12 and Prishti Tyagi, a sophomore at Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, discuss how their district and local community are not only permitting but prioritizing student voice in decision-making.

This episode is sponsored by Questeq and Siemens Industry, Inc.
Skip to: 02:56 Explanation of Project Manager of Student Voice for PPS’s role
Skip to: 04:19 Brief overview of the Pittsburgh Public Schools Student and Government Council
Skip to: 05:55 What are a few of the important messages that students have communicated with the district, city and state leadership since the organization was adopted?
Skip to: 06:48 As a student in the school, how have you been able to get your peers interested in the impact they can make on the local government?

There’s a real passion and drive among us students to get involved as early as we can.

I’ve found that once students learn about opportunities like this, they jump to apply because they really do want to effect change.

Skip to: 09:34 How is the interaction and communication between students from private, parochial and charter schools fostered a more connected district?

So when we’re bringing students together, it creates an opportunity that doesn’t organically happen in the city.

Skip to: 12:52 What was the motivation for starting the Student Advisory Council?
Skip to: 14:19 What has the organization’s biggest accomplishment been during this time?
Skip to: 15:35 What are the objectives of the PPS Student Advisory Council?
Skip to: 18:29 From a student perspective, why is it important to you to have a voice in your school’s leadership?
Skip to: 19:17 What age groups are represented in these organizations?
Skip to: 20:37 What advice would you give to other school districts looking to establish a student voice group?

Students have continued to show that they’re ready, they’re hungry for these opportunities. And their feedback and strategies, especially when they are a part of the change, that’s where meaningful change happens in education.

Asia Mason, Project Manager, Student Voice at Pittsburgh Public Schools

Asia Mason currently serves as the Project Manager, Student Voice in the Office of the Superintendent at Pittsburgh Public Schools. In her current role, she manages district-wide student voice and student leadership opportunities in 14 schools. This work consists of managing the 85-member Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, 25 member PPS Youth Participatory Budget Council (a partnership with City Council) and ensuring that student feedback directly impacts the decisions that are made systematically.

A product of the Pittsburgh Public School system, Asia graduated from Pittsburgh CAPA in 2008. Spending a year at Temple University, Asia continued her post-secondary education at CCAC, earning an associate degree in Liberal Arts & Sciences, then transferred to Carlow University where she earned her B.A. in Psychology Counseling and MBA in Project Management. She is currently enrolled at Edinboro University, where she is studying for her Pre-K-12 Principal Certification. Always having a passion for youth and education, Asia began working with children in the Out-of-School Time setting at Allegheny Center Alliance Church. It was through these various experiences that allowed Asia to transform her leadership perspective.

Prishti Tyagi, 10th grade, Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy

Prishti Tyagi is a sophomore attending Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, where she is in the Body & Behavior Concentration. She is currently in Stand Together, USO Swimming, Girls of Steel, and the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council. Her love of leadership and making a difference led her to the Council. She hopes to attend Stanford University, majoring in neuroscience and minoring in psychology.

Sam Bisno, 12th grade, Pittsburgh Barack Obama Academy of International Studies 6-12

Sam Bisno is a senior at Obama Academy. Last year, as a member of the PPS Youth Participatory Budget Council, he helped draft a proposal for City Council that aimed to address growing gentrification in Pittsburgh by investing in community land trusts. This year, he is looking forward to taking a more school-oriented approach to bettering his city through his work on the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council. Sam is the Editor-in-Chief of his school newspaper and, in April 2019, was elected Youth Governor of Pennsylvania. He hopes to study history at a liberal arts university after graduating.