Day of Community, academic updates, social and emotional learning, and SV Grows Garden highlight community meeting topics

Community members peruse a table of gardening items

Sample recipes from the Steel Valley Grows Garden served as a delicious finale at Steel Valley's March Community Meeting, which was held on Wednesday, March 8 at Barrett Elementary.

Christine Schott, who has spearheaded the development of the garden and Steel Valley's environmental programming, shared how the garden has utilized a series of grants and partnerships to grow and become sustainable. The garden is a year-round educational tool and resource, with elementary students beginning to plant the initial seeds in the final winter months, followed by life skills students at the high school helping to plant and tend the garden as the weather improves.

In 2019 and again in 2022, Ms. Schott teamed with several others to host Cooking in the Garden, where third through eighth graders could come in and learn how to make delicious foods from the ingredients grown in the garden. That program will return in 2023. The recipes are available on the Steel Valley website. Attendees at the community meeting were able to taste a sample of the recipes as well as take plants home with them.

Earlier in the meeting, assistant superintendent Bryan Macuga updated everyone on a number of topics related to district academics. The updates included changes to the Steel Valley Cyber Academy program under Mrs. Beth McCallister, which is now providing more rigor to students learning virtually. He also updated attendees on the district's pilot curriculum programs and the curriculum review process. The district is currently reviewing its social studies curriculum, with a focus on the four main categories of geography, civics, economics and U.S. history.

Mr. Macuga also touched on upcoming PSSA and Keystone testing, as well as preliminary plans for summer learning programs for all grade levels. Information about the summer learning programs will be communicated in the near future.

Assistant Superintendent Bryan Macuga speaks at a community meeting

Olando Dulin, the district's diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator, also shared an update on programs that the district is utilizing through The Pittsburgh Study. Mr. Dulin said that the district is acutely aware of the need for social and emotional development to go along with academic development, and he's excited to see the progress from programs like Expect Respect, Creating Peace and Just Discipline.

Creating Peace recently launch a new session with 22 students, twenty of whom are female. The previous session focused on male students, and Mr. Dulin said the program supervisors are eager to provide a platform to the female students as they work to identify and develop the traits of positive relationships.

Olando Dulin speaks at a community meeting

Finally, Mr. Kevin Clarke, district community liaison, brought in a group from Coro Pittsburgh to share their idea for a potential "Steel Valley Stronger: Day of Community." The idea was born out of a suggestion at a previous meeting that would bring all three boroughs together under one banner to connect with programs and activities within the school district. The current concept would be to create an annual celebration of the end of the school year, highlight community initiatives, connect students, families and community members with local resources, provide students with volunteer opportunities, and much more.

The Day of Community would also feature live music, tables for Steel Valley clubs and activities, booths for local organizations to sell products or share information about their services, and registration tables for new residents or families to sign their students up for the next school year.

Details are still being worked on, but the first Steel Valley Stronger: Day of Community is currently being targeted for late May.

Coro Pittsburgh members speak at a community meeting

Christine Schott works with a community member to prep a plant pot