By Merecedes J. Howze, Pittsburgh Public Schools

At the April, 2014 legislative meeting, the School Board of Pittsburgh approved the appointments of three new leaders for North Side schools. Pittsburgh Public Schools is committed to obtaining its four District goals: 1) Accelerating Student Achievement, 2) Eliminating Racial Disparities, 3) Becoming a District of First Choice, and 4) Creating a Student-Focused Organizational Culture for students and families. Dennis Chakey, Yarra Howze, and Leah McCord have adopted the same model and plan to help the District work towards achieving these goals at their respective assignments.

Let’s meet the new principals!

McCordMrs. Leah McCord has been selected as the Principal of Pittsburgh King PreK-8. McCord’s most recent role was serving as Principal of Jeffery and Rogers Primary located in the Shaler Area School District. While serving as the as instructional leader of two K-3 schools, McCord created a comprehensive review of student data with a school-wide focus on areas of improvement. McCord additionally implemented a comprehensive attendance review protocol as well as professional learning community meetings for all staff members. From 2003-2011, she served as Principal of Rogers Elementary School where she designed a K-3 model for data reporting, assisted in the creation of a Kindergarten Jump Start program for “at-risk” students, and implemented a response to intervention emphasis on data usage and planning.

McCord has already met with Pittsburgh King staff, some parents, and members of the North Side Leadership Conference to help prepare for her new position. “I am hoping to build relationships with students, staff, family, and community, where we are able to learn from each other,” said McCord. She also hopes to increase academic achievement at Pittsburgh King K-8 by “maintaining the work the former principal established with equity and strong leadership roles amongst deeply invested teachers.”

HowzeMrs. Yarra Howze, who joined the District in 1999 as a teacher, will leave her role as Instructional Teacher Leader 2 (ITL2) at Pittsburgh Sterrett 6-8 to become Principal of Pittsburgh Allegheny 6-8. Her teaching experience encompasses both elementary and middle school levels at various schools throughout the district.

In the spring of 2014, Howze was selected by the Gates Foundation as one of only seven teachers from across the United States to travel to Helsinki, Finland to study the Finnish Education system. During her stay, she attended the Oppi Learning Festival and networked with educators from around the world.

“In alignment with the school district’s goals for the 2014-2015 school year, I intend to support the school community of Pittsburgh-Allegheny 6-8 in its efforts to accelerate student achievement, through R.I.S.E., to ensure the implementation of high quality instruction in every content area,” said Howze.

In addition to continuing the legacy of excellence set by retiring principal, Ms. Toni Kendrick, Howze reassured, “Our staff will continue to be trained to provide equitable instruction to all students and eliminate racial disparities in student achievement. I believe that by creating a student-centered school culture, tailored to meet the various needs and interests of our students, and by increasing parent and community involvement, we will continue to progressively attain our goal of becoming a school of first choice.”

ChakeyDr. Dennis Chakey is the newest principal at Pittsburgh Perry High School after leaving his leadership post at Pittsburgh Carrick High School. Chakey is very familiar with the North Side and its students. He served as the principal of Pittsburgh Oliver High School from 2008 -2012.

This upcoming school year, Chakey plans to create systems that hold all members of the school community accountable for success and structures to increase and monitor student attendance, GPA, graduation rate, and Promise Readiness. “We want to rely on the great tradition that has been established at Perry High School, while continuing to push our entire school community to new levels of success. This year is the beginning of our journey together to make Pittsburgh Perry High School better than ever,” said Dr. Chakey.

Ms. Erin McClay will transition from her role as Acting Principal at Pittsburgh Spring Hill K-5 to Principal of the school. The Board approved the move at its June 25th Legislative Meeting. All new principal appointments will begin on July 1st. The first day of school is Monday, August 25, 2014

Do you have some great things going on at your school? Tell us about it by emailing Merecedes J. Howze at Follow PPS on Twitter @PPSNews, like our Facebook page, and follow us on Instagram @PittsburghPublicSchools