University of Pittsburgh
August 20, 2013

Kindergarten Kickoff Launched By Pitt Welcomes Students

Community celebration launched by University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development four years ago expands to seven schools

Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—New kindergarten students and families arriving at seven Pittsburgh Public Schools the morning of Aug. 29 will be greeted by balloons, high fives, cheers, refreshments, and hugs from a friendly green frog mascot named Ready Freddy as they make this important transition in their education.

Kindergarten Kickoff—launched by Pitt’s Office of Child Development in 2009 at a single school in the Hill District—has now expanded to seven schools throughout the city and is supported by the United Way of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh Public Schools.

The work of the Kindergarten Kickoff team began this year in February as its members canvassed neighborhoods, making parents aware of kindergarten registration and enrollment procedures. They coordinated events for parents and the future kindergarteners, helped parents learn concrete ways to support their child’s education, and informed parents of the important role attendance plays in school success.

“The kickoff is a great way to jumpstart the process of continued parental involvement which has proven to be important to a child’s educational success,” said Ken Smythe-Leistico, assistant director of Pitt’s Office of Child Development, which is housed in the School of Education. He says research shows that poor kindergarten and first-grade attendance have correlated with poor third-grade reading and math scores. Children with good attendance in kindergarten do better in reading and math and experience long-term educational gains, as well as social and emotional benefits, he added.

In addition to the celebratory welcome for kindergarten students and families at each site, breakfast will be provided for parents and children, school principals will give remarks, and families will have the opportunity to visit their child’s classroom, meet the teacher, and say good-bye.

The kickoff party gets underway at the following schools Aug. 29 at the times noted:

Pittsburgh Spring Hill K-5
1351 Damas Street, Spring Hill
7:30-9:30 a.m.
Linda Lane, superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools, is expected to attend.

Pittsburgh Miller African Centered Academy PreK-8
2055 Bedford Ave., Hill District
7:30-9:30 a.m.

Pittsburgh King PreK-8
50 Montgomery Place, North Side
7:30-9:30 a.m.

Pittsburgh Langley K-8
2940 Sheraden Blvd., West End
7:30-9:30 a.m.

Pittsburgh Weil PreK-5
2250 Centre Ave., Hill District
8:30-10:30 a.m.

Pittsburgh Arlington PreK-8
2429 Charcot St., Arlington
8:30-10:30 a.m.

Pittsburgh Faison K-5                                                        
7430 Tioga St., Homewood
8:30-10:30 a.m.                                             

To volunteer to assist at any of the sites, call Medina Jackson at 412-244-5019. The program has the support of The Heinz Endowments, the Grable Foundation, the Birmingham Foundation, the Buhl Foundation, and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.