Staff and Student Spotlights

  • New Lego League class a hit with students

    Posted by Jeremy Tepper on 9/26/2023

    In an ever-changing educational landscape, the Duquesne City School District strives to stay ahead of the curve. 


    Over the past several years, STEAM and STEM have been a huge focus. That focus has manifested itself in a number of ways lately, from adding an Esports elective and club to offering a Lego League club. Now, the district has taken that focus a step further, adding Lego League as an elective this school year. It’s been a hit, according to the class’s teacher, Michelle Stowell.


    “I think they’re definitely engaging with it, because it’s very hands-on. They had some trouble at first building the robots, because they learned they really had to pay attention to details,” Mrs. Stowell said. “Now that they’ve got it working, they’re controlling it and making it move and completing our missions.”


    Lego League is a unique, hands-on STEM learning initiative that involves building robots out of legos, and then coding them to complete activities in competition. Duquesne City first got involved with Lego League in the 2020-2021 school year. In the 2022-2023 school year, the district expanded its participation, competing in regional competitions. Students have resoundingly engaged with it, so much so that adding it as an elective made too much sense.


    Mrs. Stowell said her students have learned a lot in a short period of time. At first, she was especially hands-off, letting her class gauge their knowledge and comfort.


    “When they started with the code, I didn’t give them any help. I let them figure out what they could do on their own. Then I started showing them videos and helping them. I just wanted them to explore. But now they’re using the blocks that matter and really getting it,” Stowell said.


    “They’re to the point where they know how to use the code and they’ve picked which table they want to use. And based on the mission, they collect points. So we’re finally to the point that we’re going to compete against one another. Hopefully by every Friday, we can have our weekly tournaments so we can see who is accumulating more points on the table.”


    Given the district’s focus on career exploration and readiness, honing in on STEAM and STEM makes sense, as loads of careers fall under its umbrella. But beyond that, Mrs. Stowell says her Lego League class teaches students how to persevere through challenges, a valuable lesson that they can apply to their other classes.


    “It’s definitely helping with problem solving and persevering,” Mrs. Stowell said. “If they don’t get it from the beginning, they’re really taking a step back, and they keep trying. They’re learning that if you fail, you’re still learning from that.”

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  • Photo Gallery: Moonshot Grant highlights on September 21

    Posted by Jeremy Tepper on 9/21/2023

    Last school year we received a Moonshot Grant from Remake Learning, which allowed us to bring in outside providers to work with our students, while our teachers developed personalized learning plans.

    We started back up our intermittent Moonshot days last week on September 14, and that continued today, September 21. There will be six more Moonshot days this school year.

    We're extremely excited to provide our students and staff with this opportunity once again. The outside providers working our students this year include Union Project, Reaching New Dreams and Recognizing Talents, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Attack Theater, WQED Film Academy, Rivers of Steel, Y.E.S and Tech 25. 

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  • Mr. Wilson's classes raise $1400 for DVE Rocks Children's Radiothon

    Posted by Jeremy Tepper on 9/20/2023

    102.5 WDVE Rocks Children's

    For years, Lucas Wilson, a Duquesne City Social Studies teacher, has followed the DVE Rocks Children's Radiothon.

    The yearly Radiothon by WDVE, a local radio channel, seeks to raise money from Sep. 13 to Sep. 15 for UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

    Rather than just giving his donation, Mr. Wilson found a way to get his 7th grade Social Studies students involved, too. For every Duke Buck that his students earned, Mr. Wilson promised to match that with a dollar of his own to the Radiothon. Students earn Duke Bucks through the district's Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system, which rewards students for good behavior and following school-wide expectations.

    Over the course of two days, Mr. Wilson students earned 100 Duke Bucks. Since Mr. Wilson — along with 13 other donors — agreed to match the Duke Buck total, Mr. Wilson was able to raise and donate $1400 to Children's Hospital.

    Thank you, Mr. Wilson, and congratulations to your students on their excellent behavior!

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  • Introducing Dr. Janice Nuzzo: The District’s Acting Assistant Principal

    Posted by Jeremy Tepper on 8/30/2023

    Dr. Janice Nuzzo poses for a picture


    Dr. Janice Nuzzo thought that she was ready for retirement. After an over 40 year career in education that started as a teacher for Pittsburgh Public Schools, and took a number of stops in administration, Dr. Nuzzo retired after the 2023 school year.


    It didn’t take long, though, for Dr. Nuzzo to get the education itch once again. And when she heard about a potential opportunity at the Duquesne City School District, she dived back in.


    Dr. Nuzzo, most recently the Director of Student Achievement at the Allegheny Valley School District from 2009-2023, is the district’s new Acting Assistant Principal. The move was spurred by Eric Harper, the district’s former K-8 principal, being named the district’s High School Principal. George Little, the former assistant principal, is now the Acting K-8 Principal.


    “I was enjoying retirement, but I kind of wasn’t totally ready to be retired. I still had the desire to be helpful, and to have purpose,” Dr. Nuzzo said. 


    For Dr. Nuzzo, a career in education was always obvious. An early proclivity for the field sparked her interest, but it’s her powerful and genuine care for students and education that has kept her in the industry for so long.


    “I was one of those kids that knew exactly what she wanted since first grade, when we would play school,” Dr. Nuzzo said.


    “What keeps me going are the people and the kids. I love the students and I love interacting with people all of the time. I just love education.”


    Dr. Nuzzo grew up in Braddock Hills and went to Swissvale High School — now the Woodland Hills School District. Her familiarity with the general landscape of the district made a job at Duquesne City feel right.


    “It’s kind of like home, really,” Dr. Nuzzo said.


    Like many folks in education, Dr. Nuzzo has tracked the trajectory of the Duquesne City School District. Before coming to the district, Dr. Nuzzo revered the hard-changing, ambitious nature of the district’s administration and staff as a whole. That reference has only been validated, and Nuzzo is happy to help continue the push forward.


    “Their momentum is inspiring. The quality of the teachers and the administration here is great. They really work hard. They’re not letting any grass grow under their feet. They’re moving and not looking back. It’s wonderful and inspiring to be a part of that,” Dr. Nuzzo said.


    “They’re very transparent and they work well together. They’re doing what’s right for kids and families.”


    In her position, Dr. Nuzzo will pay special attention to helping shepherd new teachers, serving as an extra layer of support in making staff feel comfortable. Dr. Nuzzo has worn a number of different hats in her career, and understands just how important it is to properly support a teaching staff.


    “I’m going to be working with some of the new teachers. One of the things I know as an administrator is that finding time to work with the teachers can be difficult. So I’m going to be working very closely with the new teachers,” Dr. Nuzzo said.


    “If you’re a brand new teacher, you need to have that basis. And if you don’t have that basis to move forward, then your trajectory as a teacher may not be as positive as it could be. It’s all about that entry year and that second year.”

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  • Introducing Pamela Zackel-Dunnabeck: The District’s Director of Special Education Services

    Posted by Jeremy Tepper on 8/23/2023

    Pamela Zackel-Dunnabeck stands in front of a graffiti mural

    As an educator, Pamela Zackel-Dunnabeck prides herself on advocacy and equity. It was those values that led Zackel-Dunnabeck to become a special education administrator.

    As Zackel-Dunnabeck begins her first year as the district’s Director of Special Education services, it’s those core values of advocacy and equity that drive her.

    “I’ve always wanted to advocate for children, and special education really seems to be the right place for me,” Zackel-Dunnabeck said. “As an administrator, I’m able to advocate very strongly for student needs.”

    Prior to joining Duquesne City, Zackel-Dunnabeck spent seven years at the Woodland Hills School District — five as the Director of Special Education services and two as the Coordinator of Special Education.

    Zackel-Dunnabeck has also served as the Director of Special Education at the New Kensington-Arnold School District, as well as the Supervisor of Special Education at Familylinks. Prior to moving out of the classroom, Zackel-Dunnabeck was a special education teacher for 16 years. 

    “I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was in second grade. I used to play school with my sister all the time,” Zackel-Dunnabeck said.

    “I was an emotional support teacher, so I worked with the most challenging kids for 16 years, and that’s what I love.”

    When discussing her goals in the district, Zackel-Dunnabeck said she wants to create an environment where the teachers are effective and efficient. Given the small size of the district, Zackel-Dunnabeck looks forward to developing tight relationships with staff and students.

    “With this being a smaller school, I want to be able to develop strong relationships with the staff and kids,” Zackel-Dunnabeck. “In a school like this, I think that I can focus my time and energy on things that really matter. I think I’ll be able to develop relationships, and that’s when I’m at my best.”

    Zackel-Dunnabeck lauded the job that her predecessor, Lucy McDonough, did in advancing the district’s special education services. It was McDonough, too, who told Zackel-Dunnabeck about her eventual job at Duquesne City.

    “She told me about Duquesne, and told me about the initiatives that they have with bringing the high school back and all of the hard work that’s been done to get the middle school back. That in itself was very enticing for me to be a part of,” Zackel-Dunnabeck said.

    “This year, I think I can really do a lot to help the special education program move forward. Lucy did a fantastic job, and I really do want to pick up where she left off at.”

    Thus far, McDonough’s praise has only been validated, Zackel-Dunnabeck said. It didn’t take her long to realize just how strong the administration is in the district, and she looks forward to adding to it.

    “I have never worked with such a diverse group of administrators with areas of expertise,” Zackel-Dunnabeck said.

    “The administrative cabinet is made up of some really amazing, well-educated people that not only have a good overall view of everything that’s going on in the district, but also have their areas of expertise.”

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  • Duquesne City School District unveils Lilliput Playhouses

    Posted by Jeremy Tepper on 8/23/2023

    As Duquesne City continues to roll out World of Work, early childhood grade levels will now have an opportunity for their students to explore a variety of careers through dramatic play.

    By securing grant money, the district partnered with Lilliput Play Homes to build store fronts aligned to the career grid from World of Work. 

    The playhouses will be used to provide exploration opportunities around careers in a police station, bank, animal hospital, art studio, book store, diner and a fitness center. A trolley equipped with a steering wheel and slide rounds out the playhouses. Students in grades K-2 will have the opportunity to utilize the playhouses during the school day. 

    The playhouses are located within the Carnegie Library branch within the school building. The district is also partnering with the Carnegie Library for workforce development. During these sessions, parents and guardians who bring their children will have the ability to utilize the Lilliput playhouses.

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  • Duquesne City School District in the media

    Posted by Jeremy Tepper on 8/23/2023

    Thank you to WPXI and the Pittsburgh Union Progress for the excellent coverage on our district. 

    For the WPXI video and story, click here. For the Pittsburgh Union Progress story, click here.

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  • Photo Gallery: First day of School

    Posted by Jeremy Tepper on 8/23/2023

    The 2023-24 school year has begun! Check out some pictures above of our students entering the building this morning, August 23.

    Special thanks to members of the Village initiative that showed up to cheer on our students! 

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  • Photo Gallery: Back to School BBQ

    Posted by Jeremy Tepper on 8/22/2023

    The Duquesne City School District hosted its annual back to school BBQ on August 22, as it ramps up for school to begin on August 23.

    On the day, families and students were able to interact with district staff and get connected to community resources. Additionally, Youth Enrichment Services were present to provide face paintings, hair cuts and nail work.

    It was a day filled with fun, and a perfect way to kick things off just before the school year starts!

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  • Mr. Little named K-8 acting principal, as Mr. Harper becomes the first principal for Duquesne High School since 2007

    Posted by Jeremy Tepper on 8/21/2023

    As the school year approaches shortly, the Duquesne City School District will have a new principal. George Little, who had previously served as the district’s assistant principal since 2020, will take over as the acting K-8 Principal. 


    Eric Harper, the district’s previous K-8 principal, will now serve as the first principal for Duquesne High School since 2007. Mr. Harper will spend the next year helping to finalize the final details for the return of our 9th-12th grade students to present for approval to the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Judge of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. 


    Dr. Janice Nuzzo will now serve as the acting assistant principal. Dr. Nuzzo, who has spent nearly 50 years in education, most recently served as the Director of Student Achievement at the Allegheny Valley School District from 2009-2023. She’s held a number of positions in her career, notably spending a number of years as both a principal and assistant principal. She began her long journey in education as a science teacher for Pittsburgh Public Schools. 


    Mr. Little, a class of 2005 graduate of the Duquesne City School District, has spent a total of eight years working for the district. Mr. Little is a strong advocate for the children of Duquesne. Through education and work experiences, his goal is to educate, mentor and advocate for the children and families of our community.

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