I'm also very excited to be joining Holy Family Academy as Head of School and Chief Learning Officer in a few weeks. Although I've been working "behind the scenes" for a month or so, I'm eager to get started in a full-time capacity.
This opportunity is a blessing - a chance to found a new and innovative faith-based independent school meant to
engage and support students who come from limited financial means with lots of potential! The program is exciting and unique. We are under the umbrella of Holy Family Institute, a human services agency that's been around over a hundred years and started as an orphanage. The seven "Themes of Catholic Social Justice" are woven into the fiber of this community. The agency has done wonderful work in the Pittsburgh community to support people in need and is led by a visionary leader, Sister Linda Yankoski. I'm eager to partner with her to make the dream of Holy Family Academy (HFA) become a reality.
At HFA, we plan to innovate both within and outside of school. Our key program to support this is our Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) starting in 9th grade where all students work one day a week in the Pittsburgh community at a variety of organizations. This program, similar to the Cristo Rey model, helps fund the school and pay for each students' tuition so that financial need is never a roadblock to a strong education. The students will graduate with four years of work experience and can carry that into college or a technical career. Furthermore, HFA is focused on building community partnerships. Students take art classes at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, innovative classes on energy, technology and sustainability at the Energy Innovation Center, science labs with Citizen Science Lab (a joint program of Duquesne University and Urban Innovation21) and game design with Zulama. Our students also learn the LUMA Institute System of Innovating for People, that explores Human Centered Design as a way to define and solve problems. They will build their interpersonal and collaborative skills with tools like the Gallup Strenghtsfinder. Our advisory program, Learning Hub, helps students build their personalized learning plan, plan genius hour time and design service learning projects.
Holy Family Academy is building a grade level each year, so our pilot year had a 9th grade. Next year it's 9th and 10th. We are building our schedule and hiring cultural literacy teachers, science and engineering teachers and integrated studies teachers. Our program is going to be active, innovative, culturally and personally relevant and interdisciplinary. Our students will learn to be community change agents and servant leaders. We are ordering furniture, getting ready for summer orientation where the students build their own desks at the Carpenters Apprentice School and we're getting tons of other things done like painting the school, imaging laptops and ordering supplies.
There is much work ahead but I'm so excited for the ride! I hope you follow along.
You can reach me at: Abel-Palmieri.Lisa@hfi-pgh.org