Pennsylvania students learn the value of giving back

Community service is an important educational component for Pennsylvania school districts. For  students, successful community outreach, or “service learning,” is an extra opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of his or her own skills while seeking to meet real community needs. In this episode of Keystone Education Radio, we talk to students and teachers from East Stroudsburg, West Jefferson Hills and Colonial school districts, all of whom share a commitment to giving back to their communities.

For more good news stories from Pennsylvania school districts, see, the website host to the multi-year statewide effort to share the positive news about public education with the goal of raising understanding of the value of public education in Pennsylvania.

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Innovative education leadership in Pennsylvania; educator-author Nadia Lopez on education equity

Recorded live at this year’s annual School Leadership Conference, podcast host Nathan Mains first talks with the winners of the newly created Pennsylvania Education Innovation Awards, which seeks to recognize innovative leadership in public school board governance, administration and teaching and is sponsored by CM Regent and CM Cares. Award recipients included:

  • Derry Township School Board President Jennifer Mysel and Superintendent Joseph McFarland
  • Principal Rob Caroselli from Fox Chase Elementary School in the School District of Philadelphia
  • Kristen Albright, library media specialist, gifted support teacher and technology coach at Penns Valley Elementary and Intermediate School in the Penns Valley Area School District in Centre County

In the second part of this episode, listen in with Nathan as he talks with author and keynote speaker Nadia Lopez, a finalist for the 2016 Global Teachers Prize. Hear her thoughts on educational equity and the lessons learned and documented in her book, Bridge to Brilliance as the founder of a public school called Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn — one of America’s most under-served communities.

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District’s multifaceted approach to backpack program yields greater reach

This episode takes listeners to Williamsport Area High School for an in-depth discussion about their backpack program. The school provides a bag of nonperishable food at the end of each week for participating students to take home and eat when school meal programs are unavailable over the weekend. One of the things that sets Williamsport Area’s backpack program apart from others is that it also involves students in their life-skills program. Learn about how life-skills students manage the program and support their peers, as well as the partnerships and funding that make this program work.

For information on the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s backpack partnerships and program, see

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Effective program takes summer learning to where the kids are

In this episode, host Nathan Mains travels to Berks County to visit an innovative summer learning program,Teachers in the Parks. Nathan talks with program creator Matthew Hathaway, a fourth-grade teacher from Exeter Twp. School District, who began TIPS in 2004 working with a handful of his students in a local park. The program currently serves more than 400 students and 30 teachers from several local school districts and in multiple locations — and it’s growing!

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Student nutrition: Middletown Area’s summer lunch program

In this episode, field reporter Steve Robinson and Tony Colemire, Middletown Area’s school nutrition program coordinator, talk about a major student health issue: summer nutrition. In Pennsylvania, recent estimates show that at least half of all school-aged children qualify for a free lunch during the school year, and Middletown Area is taking steps to ensure those students have access to at least one free nutritionally balanced meal Monday through Friday, all summer long.

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Focusing learning through Mindfulness; uniting school and community through bocce

In this episode, host Nathan Mains talks with Karen Krisch, principal of Bellefonte Elementary School in Centre Co., to learn how staff, teachers and students are using mindfulness practices to focus learning and create a culture of kindness. In the second part of this episode, we learn how Strath Haven students employed their bocce club to promote inclusiveness and be a positive force in the community (see the Success Starts Here website to read more).

Resources from the Mindfulness discussion

  • — Most teacher professional development focuses on curriculum delivery. CARE for Teachers is different because it promotes core skills and dispositions teachers need to create and maintain supportive learning environments while retaining their well-being and love of teaching.
  • – A six-week online course introducing mindfulness meditation and helping to cultivate a personal mindfulness practice.
  • www.mindyeti.comMind Yeti is a mindfulness app for kids that can help you: … When life gets overwhelming, Mind Yeti gives both kids and adults a tool to cope.
  • — GoNoodle makes movement and mindfulness an integral part of the day, at school and at home. Free subscription for teachers and parents, or Plus for individual teachers or groups.
  • See Bellefonte Area’s story on Success Starts Here


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A look behind the ‘State of Education’ report; Karns City students use sports coaching technology to refine music performance, technique

In the latest episode, PSBA’s Nathan Mains talks with Andy Christ, PSBA’s education policy analyst – the gentleman behind the data presented in the recently released “State of Education” report. In the second half of the program, Nathan talks with Karns City teacher Amanda Pivirotto and two students who are using a sports coaching iPad application to improve posture, finger position and breath management — all via videos they exchange with with Slippery Rock University (SRU).

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League classifications and other changes in school athletics; Open Minds engineering competition

In this episode, PSBA’s Nathan Mains talks with PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi about changes in athletics, including new league classifications that contributed to near-record attendance at this year’s basketball tournament, as well as new and potential changes impacting student-athlete health and safety. Later in the program, we’ll talk to Plymouth Whitemarsh students who recently presented creative solutions to world problems at an Open Minds engineering competition.

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A pen pal program, celebrating Music in Our Schools Month, and an update on transgender students’ use of facilities

Transgender students’ use of school restrooms continue to be a much-discussed topic. Later in the program, we’ll be joined by Emily Leader for the latest developments. We also will be discussing a pen pal program at Oley Valley School District. But first, March has been officially designated by the National Association for Music Education for the observance of Music In Our Schools Month®, the time of year when music education becomes the focus of schools across the nation.

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Bethlehem superintendent’s effective social media approach; a unique industrial arts program; and interviews with PA senators Dinniman and Eichelberger

In this episode, PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains interviews Dr. Joseph Roy, superintendent of Bethlehem Area School District about using social media to interact with students and how he makes the call on weather-related closings and delays. Also hear two interviews recorded directly after the governor’s budget address on Feb. 7: John Callahan, PSBA’s chief lobbyist and assistant executive director for public policy, talks with Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-Chester), and Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair), minority chair and majority chair of the Senate Education Committee. Lastly, teachers at Ingomar Middle School discuss a unique industrial arts program in North Allegheny School District that is being highlighted in the Success Starts Here public awareness campaign.

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