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Sunday, March 19, 2017

EdCamp 2.0

by Lauren Weisser

The entire staff of the Woodland Hills School District participated in our second annual Ed. Camp style in-service on February 17th. This type of professional learning is meant to promote the desire for people to share and learn from their colleagues in an open environment. Each of our staff members has knowledge or strengths that should be shared with others.

See a video on the day here:

Building on the momentum started last year, we were able to offer more sessions with a greater variety of topics for our 2017 Ed. Camp. Our own staff facilitated over forty different sessions. Each staff member registered for an individual schedule of four sessions. Some of the sessions focused on interventions for student such as Trauma Informed Care, Restorative Justice, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, and cultural sensitivity. Other sessions were content area focused, offering strategies for reading, math, and STEAM instruction. Special education, technology, wellness, and sessions for new teachers and retirees rounded out the choices for the day.

Teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, central office staff and school board members spent the day learning from each other and reflecting on best classroom practices for our students. We ended the day with a “World Cafe” reflection where staff shared their experiences and learning with each other.

The day was an overwhelming success with engaged staff, confident presenters, and an opportunity to learn with their colleagues. We are already looking forward to the third annual Woodland Hills Ed. Camp in 2018!

Lauren Weisser is a 6th Grade Teacher at Woodland Hills Intermediate.

A Letter to the 2016-17 Basketball Season

by Amante Britt, #25

Dear 2016- 2017 Basketball Season,

On behalf of myself, Junior starting point guard Amante Britt, and my teammates, Seniors Tyrese Robinson, Deontae Robertson, and Kenny Lee, we are all blessed for the “ growing pain” as coach O’Dell Miller would say. This year we made a commitment to dream big and be bigger than ever before. We each went into this year’s basketball season with the expectation that we would fight blood, sweat, and tears to be at the top Section and bring home the Section Title.

At the start of the season we all decided that it was going to be our basketball season to take back the Section Title for the first time since 2000 which was 16 years ago! I was born in 2000 so I wanted to be part of the change. However as one of the leaders on the team I had to be mindful that in  order for us to achieve the goal we knew that we would have to work hard and together from the start to the end.  I had to work harder at being a better leader especially when things got tough. We had to learn and grow together that in order for great things to happen we must get rid of the “I” and make a team effort  for us to be a stronger and disciplined team that could compete and that's what we did, every team that we faced and played hard from start to end.

Woodland Hills 2016-17 Boys' Varsity Basketball

Overall the season was filled with high’s and low’s, but no matter what each of us are proud Woodland Hills Wolverines. Woodland Hills is our home away from home. Making the playoffs was a huge accomplishment for us and being only one game away from a championship game was a even bigger accomplishment. We had a strong playoff run until we were defeated in the semi-finals by Butler. However we are still keeping our eyes on the prize in the state playoffs.

Although we did not become Section Champions this season we know that we are still Champions because we never gave up even when things got tough. We are able to take every win and lose as grateful experience. Without them we would not know how to be survivors after the storms.

Personally I would like to thank our coaches, our families, our friends,  and our fans  for all the love and support  it gave us a hope and courage along the wins and the loses.

Thanks, 2016 - 2017 Basketball Season,
Amante Britt # 25

Amante Britt is a junior at Woodland Hills Junior/Senior High School.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Woodland Hills Plans Underway for our Second Annual Extended School Year Services Program!

by Agatha Leonard, Assistant to the Superintendent for Special Education

During the summer of 2016, Woodland Hills School District opened our doors to our “Wolverines” who qualified for Extended School Year.  These students were offered special education and related services in order to ensure their provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Extended School Year is a Federal and State Regulation: Federal-IDEA 300.106 and State Regulation-Chapter 14.132 mandates service for students with disabilities who qualify. It requires that school districts ensure that ESY services are available as necessary to provide a free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities. It means that Special Education Services and any Related Services that a student receives according to his or her Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is provided services beyond the 180-day school year.

It is important to note that ESY is not a daycare, day camp or respite care services. There are seven specific criteria  for a student qualify for ESY: 1.)Regression:  The student has reverted to a lower level of functioning; 2.) Recoupment-student is unable to recover skills of behaviors due to interruption in services due to school (holidays) 3.) The Combination of Regression and Recoupment; 4.) Skill Mastery; 5.)Self-Sufficiency and Independence; 6.) The degree to which Successive Interruptions negatively impacts the student; and 7.) the severity of the student’s disability. These criteria are specific. For example, to be eligible, there must be a demonstration that the student has regressed by approximately 25% as a result of an interruption in educational programming and that the student has the capacity to recover those skills in which regression has occurred to the prior level. The decision about who is eligible for extended school year is made at the building level and within the IEP process.

In our school district, our special education teachers, paraprofessionals and other professionals monitor our students and collect data on several different time points to determine if any regression or recoupment has occurred.

Swissvale Fire Fighters demonstrate their equipment for ESY students

During our kick-off year, summer of 2016, our students participated in fun and motivating activities that addressed each student’s individualized academic, social/emotional, vocational/transition and/or behavioral goals.  Our teachers used creative hands-on activities such as building bird houses to combine creative math and science experiences. Teachers also embedded sensory alerting strategies such as music to engage students in their learning process.  As the month of July progressed, the learning process for the students went beyond the classroom walls.  We incorporated on-campus fieldtrip experiences with the Humane Society and Swissvale Fire Department.  Students learned about their community and experience the pride of learning that former “Wolverines” are contributing members of these community agencies. 
ESY Students learn about animals with visitors from the Human Society

As we concluded our first district ESY program, we saw the spark of excitement in the eyes of all those who participated.  Teachers planned ideas for next year, students asked to come back next summer, and parents shared positive feedback on the length of the program day, the structure, and delight they could see in their child both before and after each ESY day. For our second year, we are building in several off-site, field trip/enrichment activities for our students. Please stay tuned for more information on our special education webpage and a new Schoology page!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

"The Books are Delicious!"

by Marty Sharp

Students in Mrs. Beitler and Mrs. King's reading classes at Woodland Hills Intermediate experienced their first ever book tasting.  During the book tasting, the students were able to "taste" different genres of books.  Many students discovered their new favorite genres!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

High Impact Family Engagement

High Impact Family Engagement
By Dr. Deborah M. Vereen,
Assistant to the Superintendent, Family and Community Engagement and Volunteerism

The Woodland Hills School District has demonstrated their commitment to promoting more active levels of parental involvement throughout the process of education by the creation of the Office of Family and Community Engagement and Volunteerism at the start of the 2016 – 2017 school year.  As a result, high impact family engagement is emerging.

High impact family engagement involves building strong relationships between our families and the school district.  It also builds capacity of families and staff members by providing education, supports, and opportunities for genuine, non-exclusionary partnerships that rely on the development of joint skills, talents, motivation, and abilities.  In other words, families and the staff are growing to depend upon each other so that common goals which benefit the learning process are beginning to blossom.  Finally, this type of engagement promotes family events and activities that are closely linked to student learning.

HUGS Volunteers

Several high impact family engagement initiatives have been developed within the school district, again, which reflects an authentic effort to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships between each family and the school district as well as with the schools.  Some of these include:
• Parent Camp
• Home Visiting using the BFF (Bonding Face-to-Face) Process
• The H.U.G.S. (Helping Unconditionally by Giving Support) School Volunteer Program
• Parent University
• The Family Resource Room and Parent Library
• The annual English as a Second Language District Wide Family Meeting and Reception
• The F.A.C.E. (Family and Community Engagement) Committee
• Professional Development Activities
• The Woodland Hills C.A.R.E.S. (Connected And Resourceful Engagement with our Schools) Early Childhood Outreach Program that includes:  Presenting Resident Infants with Unique Care Packages; the annual Breakfast With Santa Wolverine Learning Adventure; the annual Open House
• Advocacy and Support for Families
• The Family Resource Fair
• Unique School Wide Family Engagement Programs and Activities
• Outreach and Collaborations with Community and Neighborhood Partners including but not limited to Municipalities and Faith-Based Communities

We recognize the importance families play throughout the educational process. If you would like to become involved in any of these opportunities, or if you have additional questions about Family and Community Engagement at Woodland Hills, please contact me at

Sunday, February 19, 2017

100 Days Smarter- Celebrating in a Big Way at the Woodland Hills Academy

By Brittany Libell

At the Woodland Hills Academy, the 100th Day of School has become a school wide celebration of the number 100 and an opportunity for 7th and 8th grade students to give back to students in grades K-6.  On the February 2, 2017 students and staff participated in 100 minutes of STEAM based challenges.  The Academy’s original kindergarten and 1st grade classes are now 7th an 8th graders, this day gave them an opportunity to visit the classrooms of many or their former teachers and see things from the other side.  Teachers had a chance to see the young adults that are now leaders within the building.

Teams of 4 junior high students traveled to each homeroom, each with a challenge to present.  Most of the tasks lasted for 20 minutes, but each grade participated in one larger 40-minute challenge.  The big hit this year was the class bowling challenge; classes gathered in the gym and worked as a team to try to knock down 100 bowling pins in under 4 minutes by kicking soccer balls from set points in the gymnasium.  3rd through 6th grade students became amusement park planners, they were given 100 index cards and a roll of tape, they were then challenged to create a roller coaster that would carry a ping pong ball 100 inches over 1 hill.
Students work together to knock down 100 pins in the Academy gym

Walking through the halls on this day, you see “big kids” helping the groups of “little kids” as they work towards their goals.  The hum is from students hard at work, struggling to meet the challenges before them.  Cheers could be heard celebrating the success of groups as they completed some of the more difficult activities. 

Kindergarten – 2nd grade challenges:
• Build a house that could stand for 100 seconds, using only play dough and popsicle sticks
• Use 100 sponges to build the tallest structure possible
• Race to build a 100 piece puzzle upside down, using 100s chart clues
• Create a structure from 100 connecting cubes with a base that fits on an index card

Academy 4th graders work to build a Pasta Pinnacle
3rd and 4th grade challenges:
• Create a pixel drawing on a 100s grid
• Use two strips of paper and a straw to construct a hoop-flyer that can fly 100 inches
• Build a pasta pinnacle 100 centimeters tall, using spaghetti, marshmallows and 18 inches of tape.

5th and 6th grade challenges:
• Use 100 gum drops and 100 toothpicks to construct the tallest dome
• Build a catapult from popsicle sticks and rubber bands in order to launch a piece of candy 100 centimeters
• Race to build a tissue box structure that is 100 cm x 100 cm x 100 cm

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Woodland Hills Intermediate Students to Boogie for a Cause

by Marty Sharp

Woodland Hills Intermediate is excited to announce its first annual Technothon Dance-a-Thon! WHI Staff and Students will dance continuously from 8:15 – 2:35 on Thursday, February 16th. Students and Staff will dance in 1- 2 hour shifts, depending upon the number of participants.

Students are invited to partcipate to dance and raise funds. Those students who would like dance away part of the day are encouraged to raise a minimum of $10.00 worth of cash pledges. Those students who are able to generate $20.00 worth of donations will receive a cool Technothon 17 t-shirt the day of the event. 

Students have already raised enough pledges to meet the Technothon's first goal of acquiring earbuds for each student at the Intermediate! In fact, they were able to raise enough to outfit the building for two years. This will enable students to use individualized technology more effectively, allowing them to enrich their classroom experience and receive extra assistance when it is needed.

Additional funds that are raised will benefit the Intermediate Uniform Fund, to make sure that our growing students can look their best in class.

Special congratulations to Andrew Bright, McKenna Matthews and Divine Holland, students who are our leaders in fundraising.

Even now, with a week to go until the event, your generosity and effort are greatly appreciated. We welcome contributions to help our kids!  If you have any questions you may contact Mr. Sharp at 412-351-0698 ext 4200 or