“Propel Provides and East Eats” halts weekend hunger for students!


According to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, nearly 19% of the children in Allegheny County suffer from food insecurity. In numbers, that is over 45,000 or 1 in 5 children who do not have enough food to eat every day. In an average Propel classroom of 24 students, that means that at minimum, 4 -5 children are hungry. As teachers, we are continually encouraging our students to strive to be their best. By providing food for our students, they will be able to focus on their school work instead of having to worry on Fridays how, or if, there will be sufficient food for Saturday and Sunday. Additionally, teachers will be able to witness students coming in on Mondays who are better prepared to tackle the week ahead because they had sufficient food to eat over the weekend.

The seeds for Propel Provides and East Eats began early in 2015 after I saw how many students were hungry for breakfast. As a classroom teacher, I had never before had a reason to go into the cafeteria to witness breakfast on a daily basis. Last year, however, I was given “breakfast duty” at Propel Pitcairn. It was then that I realized how hungry our students are every morning. Throughout my years at Propel, I have witnessed many teachers who have personally provided food for students during the school day. After speaking to several individuals, and researching available programs, I was put in contact with Propel’s Community Liaison, Eric Ewell. Eric, …

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Summer Adventures in Education!

Students from Propel Montour had the opportunity to see the world this summer, thought the eyes of their art teacher, Robyn Doyle. This wonderful virtual field trip was a project of Ms. Doyle’s and “Teachers For Global Classrooms.” During June, 2015, Ms. Doyle visited India — and showed her students (via Instagram — see: https://instagram.com/propelmontourfinearts/) all of the amazing sights, sounds and experiences that were an integral part of this adventure.

This was a working adventure for Ms. Doyle, as she learned new things to bring home to her Propel students. Her self-defined primary objective for participating in the Teachers for Global Classroom program was “to expand knowledge of global education so as to expand personal knowledge and growth, to better prepare her students for the future and make a positive impact on her school community.”

“Teachers For Global Classrooms” allowed Ms. Doyle to become truly immersed in the school culture in India. Opportunities for learning included:

· Observing classes
· Co-teaching a lesson
· Roundtable meetings with teachers and/or school administrators
· Cultural presentations, on the U.S. or India
· Participating in students’ extra-curricular activities
· Visiting nearby cultural/ historical sites

In Ms. Doyle’s blog, she answered questions submitted by her Propel students and even challenged them with questions of her own. To read more about this adventure, please see the blog at:



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“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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