Pittsburgh’s Westinghouse high school has an enrollment of 707 students, 99% of whom are African American. During the fifties, Westinghouse was considered one of the best high schools in the state. However, in recent years some researchers have called the school a “dropout factory” because it has had the unfortunate distinction to have no more than 60 percent of the students who start as freshmen make it to their senior year.
However, thanks to a new program supported by the Heinz Endowments, the first class of The Heinz Fellows have come to the school to help students in need. I enjoyed meeting the Heinz Fellows and learning about their motivation to educate. I will be checking in with them from time to time on their progress and how things are working out. I felt like I had a lot in common with many of the Fellows, being an outsider trying to make change in communities that need it. We need to be reminded that it’s a group effort in making changes in the lives of at risk youth. It takes dedicated teachers who listen and learn to relate with the youth but more importantly it also takes a community dedicated to see a better life for all their youth and themselves.