“Propelled To Run!”


In last year’s Pittsburgh Marathon 5K component race, it wasn’t hard to spot the 4 young ladies from Propel Northside. Along with their bright pink shirts, they were all wearing smiles of happiness and achievement. These first-time runners were indeed, “Propelled To Run” by their Principal and mentor, Sarah Lordi, an avid runner. Mrs. Lordi wanted the girls (grades 5 and 6) to explore something that they would potentially never try on their own. The result? A huge success for all involved.

Fast forward to the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon — Sarah Lordi is still an avid runner and the girls from the Northside are still interested in being a part of the “Propelled To Run” Program — and how! The program has now expanded to include grades 4 – 7 and 25 runners will participate! Sarah has enlisted the assistance of another Principal and three teachers are all volunteering their time to help the young ladies prepare for the race.

To make this event even better, Propel Northside will add some family flair to the mix. A dinner will be held for all families, complete with sign-making time so that the girls can see their supporters as they run on the big day!

Says Sarah, “Our training has truly been the best way to end a long day, by running with the girls and watching them cheer each other on. The younger students stand around the gym and give high fives to the older girls as they run past — …

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The Beat Goes on at Propel Montour (Heartbeat, that is!)

Recently, the Propel Montour family was honored to receive grant funding that brought a new skill to their 7th and 8th grade students — one that they will remember for the rest of their lives — performing CPR! Hopefully, the students won’t ever have to use their CPR skills, but it is GREAT to be prepared! Today’s guest blogger, Mr. Maschio, gives us a glimpse of what the students thought about this grant and how learning this skill makes them feel.

On January 15, 2015, 7th and 8th grade students at Propel Montour utilized a grant from the “American Heart Association-Ross Initiative.” Students learned and practiced essential life-saving skills and techniques required to effectively perform CPR. Propel Montour was selected out of 1,100 schools, and under the guidance of Nurse Marik, Mr. Teti and myself, students learned and physically simulated the hands-only approach to CPR on specially-designed resuscitation Annie dolls.

“It looked like it was going to be easy at first, but it was a lot harder than people thought,” said 7th grade student Justina Wegley. Students consistently voiced these beliefs and recognized the precision required to effectively and efficiently perform this potentially life-saving skill. “It was a great learning experience but much harder than it looks on TV,” reiterated 8th grader Jeff Clark.

Perhaps most importantly, students recognized the magnitude of their newly acquired skill and voiced how prepared they now feel if they were to ever face such a trying experience. “It was harder than it looked, but …

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A Musical Interlude for Propel East’s Band

As you might remember, Propel East’s 7th and 8th grade band has had the great fortune to have a piece of music professionally composed for them and dedicated to them.  Today’s guest blogger is the man who wrote this great piece for these great musicians, Mr. Rich Freese.

 music piece


Greetings from Wisconsin!

My name is Rich Freese, and I’ve had the incredible opportunity to write for the Propel East Middle School Band. At the end of the last semester I finished composing and sent to Mr. Vince Wallace the score and parts for Legendarium, a new piece specifically composed for the students at Propel East.

The word “Legendarium” is an old word for a collection of legends. When I was a kid, I loved the genres of sci-fi and fantasy and immersed myself in video games series like The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy, the books of JRR Tolkien (this was before The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were gazillion dollar movie franchises), and the original Star Wars trilogy. I wrote Legendarium thinking of those ideas of heroes exploring and saving mythical worlds, of legends, quests, magic, etc, etc that fascinated me when I was in middle school (and still do today).



Rich Freese is a candidate for the degree of doctor of musical arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and serves full-time as the worship & music coordinator at Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel in Madison. He lives with his wife Becca and newborn son

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Science and Music Collide at Propel McKeesport!

Class 3A at Propel McKeesport recently learned that Science and Music have much in common! These students had the opportunity to transfer their Science knowledge into a seasonal music piece!

Science teacher Ms. Cohen joined forces with Music teacher Ms. Rushlander to show students that there is a partnership between the subjects, via a cool teaching experience.

Using ‘boomwhacker’ instruments (plastic tubes of varying length,) the students began by hypothesizing about the pitch that each tube would make when struck on the ground. Using scientific principles, students guessed that the longer tubes would make the lower pitches and the shorter tubes would make a higher pitched sound.

The experiment then began, as students were each given an instrument with which to work. Striking the boomwhackers on the floor in successive patterns, the students then voted on the types of sounds that they heard. Teachers charted the student votes and the eventual outcome of the experiment. It turns out that 3A were some very good guessers!

Ms. Rushlander then showed the students that pitches can be used to make music. With a nod to the season, she showed the students how to play “Jingle Bells” with the boomwhackers!

An attentive and excited class, 3A learned about hypothesizing, charting, scientific principles of sound, musical theory and musical practice — all in one hour! Great job by both teachers and students!…

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Propel Foundation Innovation Grants Inspire Teachers!

Each year, the Propel Schools Foundation accepts grant applications from teachers who seek to do innovative programming that often falls out of budget range. One of the Innovation Grant awardee from 2014 (and 2013!) talks about her experience with the funding and why it is so very important to Propel.

Welcome, guest blogger Heather Harvey, Propel Northside.

The Innovation Grant (via the Propel Schools Foundation) is an amazing opportunity that my students and I have been fortunate enough to benefit from for two consecutive years.

I spend hours over the summer and throughout the school year keeping up with current educational trends and best practices. I am often inspired to bring new concepts and ideas into my classroom from blogs, educational journals, and conferences I attend. In 2013, I was fortunate enough to attend the “National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics” conference in Denver. While there, I learned of the Math and Movement program that is designed specially to help students learn basic math skills through movements on large, room-sized carpet mats. I was so excited to see such a thing, but knew I personally could not afford to bring such a program back to my school. I kept the idea in my back pocket and searched for ways to make it a reality.

The Propel Innovation Grant was just what I needed! After great success with my first Innovation Grant, I left last school year looking for something new so that I could apply for a 2014 Innovation Grant. …

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