Everything we do must be done through the lens of equity. It is not just a challenge local to Steel Valley, but perhaps the greatest challenge facing education in the United States.

Equity and inclusion can be as specific as a program such as the 3Rs - Reading, Racial Equity and Relationships - which can help connect students with racially affirming statements and help coach educators to become more comfortable with talking about race when their students have questions.

It can also be broader, such as introducing high school students to a wider range of college opportunities beyond the Pittsburgh region. By exposing students to more universities via the college scholarship and application hub in the library and through new opportunities like the Historically Black Colleges and Universities tour, students will be able to explore more options to find the right fit.

The Expect Respect team poses with Barrett students

Through the office of Olando Dulin, the district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion coordinator, Steel Valley has several programs designed to bring new experiences to students, break down barriers, and provide resources to those in need.

These resources include several programs made possible by our community partners:

  • Creating Peace, a partnership with UPMC, teaches middle school and high school students how to communicate with their peers, adults, and even police.
  • The HBCU Mentoring Program guides middle school and high school students towards being responsible and accepting leadership, all while exposing them to the world of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The students meet regularly with HBCU alumni and entrepreneurs, who share how they progressed through high school and college to become successful professionals.
  • Free tuition at CCAC via participation in Job Corps, a residential education and job training program.

It's important for those relationships to continue to grow. Mr. Dulin and the Steel Valley administration are exploring the implementation of an aftercare program for Steel Valley alumni. It would serve as a resource for alumni who might need guidance on housing, employment, transitioning to a new career, and more. Our students may graduate from Steel Valley, but it is our mission that they always understand that even after graduation, they're not alone.

Barrett Elementary's Interactive Living Museum Celebrating Black History

Black History Month has been an integral part of the educational experience at Barrett Elementary for years. Ten years ago, though, a conversation began on how to revise the experience for students based on the diversity and strengths of the Steel Valley community. The key question: "How do we promote and celebrate their history, heritage and culture?"

The answer was to give the students their own voice, to allow them to use their voices and the voices of their ancestors to tell their stories.

A Steel Valley student portrays a wax figure for younger students at the Black History Month Interactive Living Museum.

With those concepts in mind, the Black History Month experience changed. Today, it includes an Interactive Living Museum, with students, alumni and community members taking part to help bring important moments and figures in history to life. In the words of organizer Jonette Bost, "The Black History Month Interactive Museum is hands-on. It allows for collaboration. It allows for creativity. It provides them with an experience that they might not have otherwise. It is the experience that will leave a lasting impression, but it will also teach them how resilient individuals who come from humble beginnings can be. What a powerful learning experience and something that should be celebrated."

For more about the Black History Month Interactive Living Museum, including a look at the 2023 museum, please visit the Barrett Elementary page.

A presenter shares a story with a captivated audience during the Barrett Black History Month Interactive Living Museum