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Welcome Back-to-School!

The backpacks are zipped, the classrooms are ready, and just like that, we’re off to a new school year.

As we move forward into September, I’m reminded of the reason for all our hard work and preparations, and the reason you’re reading these words today: to help our students achieve success in the coming year, and by extension, in the rest of their lives. Education is the catalyst for that success, the engine that will drive progress in their future, and ours.

As with most engines, it requires many hands to make it run effectively. Parents, guardians, and other caregivers anchor that process by taking an active role in their children’s school experience. Talk to your child to get their perspective, and talk to their teachers, too! Parent-teacher conferences are a wonderful way to learn first-hand what a student experiences every day. Each school year brings a series of educational decisions, and parents’ input is vital – because nobody knows the student like you do.

If you haven’t already tried our online Home Access Center, now is the time. It will help you track your child’s progress, spot challenges, and celebrate achievements. (And if you aren’t sure how to do this, the Parent Hotline can help you.) Younger students may also have notices tucked into their backpacks, so please remember to check them every day.

If your schedule permits, you can volunteer in the classroom (keep in mind that you will need clearances, and get them renewed every five years.) While not everyone can help out during the school day, there are still plenty of opportunities to take a more active role in PPS. Organizations such as the Parent-School Community council, the PTO and the PTA welcome your input and ideas, or talk to your school’s Family and Community Engagement Coordinator about becoming a member of the district-wide Parent Advisory Council.

All of these examples are great ways to lead your children, by example, to become active in their communities so their voices, and yours, are truly heard.

Lastly, I’d like to address a topic that we’re all thinking about. As you know, Pittsburgh Public Schools and the PFT are bargaining over a new contract. These negotiations are ongoing, but at their center, the focus will always be on the students we serve. As adults, we may disagree on various issues. But our students’ best interest must be our common goal. Let us begin this school year in the spirit of leading by example, and of guiding our children toward a productive and successful future.

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