University of Pittsburgh
August 29, 2012

Pitt’s Office of Child Development Brings Volunteers, Parents, and “Ready Freddy” Mascot to Welcome Students During Kindergarten Kickoff at Six Locations Sept. 5


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

High resolution image(s) available >


PITTSBURGH—New kindergarten students at six Pittsburgh Public Schools will be welcomed on Sept. 5—the first day of school—by groups of parents and supportive volunteers and friends, including “Ready Freddy,” a green frog mascot that is the symbol of a program developed by Pitt’s Office of Child Development (OCD) to help ease kindergartners’ transition to formal schooling.

Ready Freddy greets youngsters at Weil PreK-5 in 2011

This year, United Way of Allegheny County is partnering with OCD for the kindergarten kickoff, an annual event designed to increase awareness about kindergarten and to help ensure a smoother transition from the home to the classroom.

Friendly adults and the “Ready Freddy” mascot will be at the following kindergarten sites Sept. 5 to welcome and encourage new students and their parents on the first day of school:

South Side

8-10 a.m.

Arlington PreK-8

2429 Charcot St.

Pittsburgh PA, 15210

West End

7-9 a.m.

Langley K-8

2490 Sheraden Blvd.

Pittsburgh, PA 15204

North Side

7-9 a.m.

King PreK-8

50 Montgomery Place

Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Hill District

7-9 a.m.

Miller PreK-5

2055 Bedford Ave.

Pittsburgh, PA 15219


8-10 a.m.

Faison K-5

7430 Tioga St.

Pittsburgh, PA 15208

Hill District

8-10 a.m.

Weil PreK-5

2250 Centre Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15219


“National studies highlight the fact that nearly half of all children struggle with the transition to kindergarten,” said Ken Smythe-Leistico, director of OCD’s Pathways to School Success. “Late arrivals and poor initial attendance are considered significant predictors for school failure. The Ready Freddy Program targets those children most likely to be absent on the first day,” he said.

Smythe-Leistico and his staff canvassed the South Side, North Side, Homewood, West End and the Hill District this summer, enrolling youngsters in kindergarten, taking parents on virtual tours of the schools, and distributing new family activities calendars and an interactive Web-book.

Before OCD’s involvement, kindergarten enrollment at some of the schools had been low, with as few as 12 students attending the first day of class. This year, enrollment has even surpassed projected figures at several kindergarten sites.

United Way is recruiting 20 to 40 volunteers to staff each school site for the Sept. 5 event. Those interested can contact Christina Burke at 412-456-6856 or



Ready Freddy greets youngsters at Weil PreK-5 in 2011