Duquesne to tailor learning to individual needs
By Jennifer R. Vertullo
Published: Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, 3:36 a.m.
When classes open today in Duquesne, approximately 350 students in kindergarten through sixth grade will begin individual education plans intended to push them and the school district toward maximum achievement.
This is the second year that Duquesne City School District will educate only its elementary-level students in house.
Last year, students in seventh and eighth grades joined Duquesne upperclassmen at West Mifflin Area and East Allegheny schools, where they have been since Duquesne High School closed in 2007.
Under direction of newly appointed Superintendent Barbara McDonnell, assistant to the superintendent Stan Whiteman and student services coordinator Martina Vitalbo, an enthusiastic staff is pulling together educational techniques and technological resources to give students the tools to succeed.
McDonnell, an educator and administrator in Duquesne schools since 1999, said the district is taking a prescriptive approach to education.
“We want to work with our students,” she said. “Each child will follow an individual learning plan. If we learn what everyone's strengths and weaknesses are … everyone will be challenged and engaged in the classroom.”
McDonnell said there will be less disruption by focusing students and giving them opportunities to receive extra instruction from teachers and classroom coaches.
Whether students excel or struggle with classroom topics and tasks, their learning plans will reflect their needs.
Vitalbo's role, in part, will be to work with students and families on boosting those who are having difficulties.
“We're trying to redefine her role to help students who have learning issues,” McDonnell said. “We want to find out what's stopping them from being successful in this building.”
Teachers in every grade will work to meet specific needs and to gain a technological edge.
The district installed a new model classroom that will be used for professional development and coordination of curriculum. New technology includes eight SMART Boards, an ELMO projector and an Apple TV.
“We're trying to raise their level of excitement so that, when the students return, they can feel that,” McDonnell said. “We're trying to get that energy back.”
The school district is using social media to reach out to the community. Information is available online at www.dukecitysd.org, and the district will post updates on Facebook and Twitter. There's even an independent app that can be downloaded for iPhone and Android operating systems.
“We're embracing social media,” said Sarah McCluan of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, which provides public relations services for the district. “It's three more ways that we can reach parents and the Duquesne community.”
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Elizabeth Forward students help their community
- Forward commissioners to allow residents to review seismic ordinace
- Port Vue ready to approve budget
- Jefferson Hospital to say ‘thank you’ with light-up night
- Santa spends the day in Steel Valley, the evening in Elizabeth
- Retirees, senior citizens anticipate annual holiday program
- Mon Valley to benefit from conservation grants
- Local crews ready for wintry mix
- Weather delays cleaning project
- McKeesport Area hosts student summit
- McKeesport’s Festival of Trees ignites holiday spirit