Back to School

Are Your Elementary Kids Ready?
Submitted by Shelly Gilmore
CDE Supervisor, Head Start/Early Head Start of Fayette County

Back to School brings a lot of mixed emotions for children. Sadly, the sleepy mornings and lack of schedules are coming to an end, but the excitement of a new year awaits! There are a lot of ways parents can prepare children for the new year besides buying notebooks, bright shiny new shoes and school clothes. Here are 5 ways parents can assure their child has a smooth transition.

1. Work with your child to create a morning checklist
     The checklist can be posted on the refrigerator or in their room. Items on the checklist can be simple such as getting dressed, making the bed, brushing their teeth, feeding the dog, finding their bookbag, etc. Children can check items off each morning as completed.

2. Schedule a time and place to complete homework
     Head off daily battles by making homework part of your child's daily routine. Be sure to make yourself available during this time in case there are questions or assistance is needed. Provide input from your child and decide together when and where homework time should occur.

3. Make a sick day back up plan
     For working parents, parents attending training, etc., a good idea is not to wait for the morning the sickness strikes to panic that you do not have anywhere for your child to go. Since calling off from work is not always an option, a back up plan will assist you in getting to where you need to be on time.

4. Engage in regular conversations with your child
     My favorite place to do this is in the car when they can't run away or their friends are not around. Provide children with opportunities to tell you about their day and practice active listening. If children are having issues at school with other kids or they are worried about something this is the time to listen closely and provide suggestions on how to handle situations appropriately.

5. Touch base with the teacher periodically
     Let your child know that school is a family affair and you will be talking with the teachers regularly to check on progress and if there are any concerns. Email is a great way to communicate since life is hectic and everyone is busy. It's important to have the beginning of the year discussion and to ask the teacher what method of communication would work well for them.

PIC Fills Three Positions

PIC Fills Three Positions

The Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette, Inc. (PIC) has recently filled three positions. Tara Manderino joins PIC as the Planner/Grants Writer, Suzann Bloom is the new Youth Program Supervisor, and Erika Doyle is the new Employment Training Supervisor at the  PA CareerLink® Westmoreland County.

With a solid grants writing background, Manderino brings over 20 years of non-profit experience to the corporation. Along with grants writing, she is experienced in communications and social media. Prior to joining PIC, Manderino was previously employed by Mon Yough Community Services in McKeesport, the Monessen District Library Center, and SPHS, Monessen. She holds a B.A. in English from the Pennsylvania State University.

As the new Youth Program Supervisor, Suzann Bloom, oversees the 21st Century Community Learning Centers’ afterschool and summer programming, and supervises other PIC youth programs, including the Summer Youth Work Experience program.

She holds a B.S. in Environmental Science/Ecology from Juniata College, and an M.S. from Slippery Rock University in Parks & Resource Management/Environmental Education. Prior to coming to PIC, Bloom’s previous work experience includes River Quest, Green Building Alliance, and the Pennsylvania Center for Environmental Education.

Erika Doyle is the new Employment Training Supervisor at PA CareerLink® Westmoreland County where she oversees the Title I programs.  A collaborative project between multiple agencies, PA CareerLink® provides services to Pennsylvania employers and potential employees. This position is a promotion for Doyle who previously served as an Employment Specialist at the PA CareerLink® Fayette County. She has been employed by PIC for 13 years. Her positions prior to joining PIC include Case Manager, Litigation Assistant, and Paralegal. Erika holds a B.A. in English from the Duquesne University.

Partners – PA CareerLink, WCIDC and EGC

Partners – PA CareerLink, WCIDC and EGC

We have been associated with the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation (WCIDC) and Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland (EGC) for years, but recently developed a true partnership.  As a result of Jason Rigone, Director of Planning & Development, Executive Director of WCIDC and Janice Albright, Administrator PA CareerLink Westmoreland, being on the same radio program with Chad Amond, Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce President the seed was planted.  Their dialogue led to a connection between Kim Donnelly, Business Development Director of WCIDC and Awanda Pritts, a PIC Account Representative at the PA CareerLink Westmoreland.

Awanda and Kim are coordinating efforts to develop working relationships that provide resources for Westmoreland County employers.   These efforts began with R.E. Uptegraff, a Scottdale based company that Awanda has been involved with for the past 3 years.  This started with an introduction of Kim to the new owners, Shenda Electric of China.  This company retained the Operations Manager, Awanda’s primary contact, that allowed her relationship with R.E. Uptegraff to not only continue, but to grow with the new company’s future plans.   Awanda organized an introduction for Kim with the new owners as well as a guided tour of the facility with discussion of their expansion plans in Westmoreland County.  This discussion led to a second meeting where Donna Bates, Director of Finance, Marketing, and Programs  for the EGC was included to provide information on assistance with the purchase of new equipment for this expansion project.  Resources like this allow us to help our local employers maintain and/ or expand their operations by providing them with job candidates, financial assistance and referrals.  We are a source for them to access for information and referral services to assist them reach their goals.  They also visited The ExOne Company in North Huntingdon where they reviewed the resources available to them in the future.

This partnership works both ways.  After the merger of Pittsburgh Electric Engine and Watt Fuel Cell, leadership roles in the business changed.  When you are getting a project like this off the ground you are working 25 hours a day.  The PA CareerLink was very interested in establishing a working relationship with Watt Fuel Cell, but wanted to wait until the time was right.   Kim had the opportunity to meet with the Director of Corporate Services when the company was getting established in Mt. Pleasant.  This time it was Kim who set up the meeting to introduce Awanda to inform Watt about the services that the PA CareerLink can provide to them.

This open line of communication that Kim and Awanda have developed keeps moving forward with the sharing of information and services available to the businesses in Westmoreland County.

Next stop is Equipment and Controls Inc. in Monessen.  By the time you read this article I am sure there will have been more successful meetings to report on and more scheduled for the future as well, thanks to this community partnership.

If you have any questions about the Employer services that are available in Westmoreland County you can contact Awanda at 724-755-2330 or Kim at 724-830-3606 or stop by a local Chamber Event where you may get a chance to meet both of them.

2014-2015 Divisional Employees of the Year

2014-2015 Divisional Employees of the Year


The Private Industry Council (PIC) annually recognizes Divisional Employees of the Year. In late spring, staff members submit nominations, putting forward names of colleagues who have demonstrated exceptional knowledge of their respective programs, perform their job duties well, and put forth extra effort, going beyond what is required of them. 

We are pleased to announce the 2014-2015 honorees:


Early Childhood Development Division

Amy Oldland, Instructor in the Head Start of Fayette County Route 857-2 classroom, was named the Early Childhood Development Divisional Employee of the Year.


According to her nominator, Amy is very knowledgeable of the Head Start Performance Standards and Program Policies.  She meets deadlines and has developed a tracking form to ensure she meets requirements.  Amy is able to speak to parents to explain the benefits of the program and is willing to do whatever it takes for families to get the best services.  She is also willing to volunteer to recruit at special events to obtain program applicants.  Her actions show that she puts the children and families first.

Amy led the children in her classroom in the creation of an art mural for submission to the National Head Start Association’s “Head Start My Favorite Part” challenge in December 2014.  Her children’s artwork was selected as the winner. As a result, Amy attended the National Head Start Association’s conference in March 2015 and received a framed poster of the artwork, a classroom carpet of the artwork, and a $250 gift card for classroom art supplies.  Her successful efforts have helped to bring national recognition for PIC’s Head Start program.


Workforce Development Division

Doug McDonough, Job Developer for the EARN program in Fayette County, was named the Workforce Development Divisional Employee of the Year.


Doug was nominated for his knowledge of the Employment, Advancement and Retention Network (EARN) program and for his ability to connect outcomes to work habits.  Due to his positive work habits, Doug has exceeded his goals for client job placements.  Doug has also been recognized for his willingness to volunteer his time and energy to improving other PIC programs.  He recruits EARN clients for YACHT (Young Adult Careers with Hands-on Training) program participation and offers assistance and ideas for the PIC Connection Radio and TV shows.  His extra efforts are valued as they help increase the performance outcomes of other PIC programs.

Congratulations Amy and Doug!  Keep up the great work!


Amy Oldland 2                  

 Tim Yucisin, President & CEO; Terri Campbell, Vice President of Operations, Amy Oldland; Debbie Parshall, Child Development and Education Classroom Manager


Dough McDonough 1

 Terri Campbell, Vice President of Operations; Doug McDonough; John Evans, Employment Training Supervisor; Sean Sypolt, Vice President of Education & Workforce Development

Third Annual Parent Training Event 2014-2015

Third Annual Parent Training Event 2014-2015

Seventy parents gathered at Westmoreland County Community College on May 14th for an event hosted  in collaboration with the following agencies: the Private Industry Council, Head Start/Early Head Start of Fayette County, Center of Excellence: SEEDS,  Head Start of Beaver County, Westmoreland County Community Action, and Community Action Southwest.

The parent engagement event featured four speakers: Lois Malmgren from Westmoreland County Community Action; Headda Sharapan from Fred Rogers; Gina Bowen from the Private Industry Council Center of Excellence: SEEDS; and Heidi Hess from the Autism Society of Pittsburgh.

The workshops centered on what parents can do to help their families feel empowered, and address the same collective concerns and needs with their struggles. Parents were provided strategies and support to resolve and overcome family/child challenges with autism and developmental delays, nutrition and health, communication, and behaviors. The workshops enabled parents to share ideas and experiences and reinforce how influential they are in their child’s development.

Parents were also able to gather information and network with representatives from our local community partners, which included: Southwest Immunization Coalition; Women, Infants, and Children [WIC]; A Childs Place at Mercy Hospital; Parent to Parent; Highmark Caring Place; Father’s Initiative of Beaver County; Fayette County Assistance Office; Westmoreland County Drug & Alcohol; Private Industry Council – Adult Education; Aetna; and PA CareerLink Westmoreland County.

In addition, parents enjoyed a catered luncheon, and gift baskets were also raffled to encourage family activities. 

parent train1

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 parent train3