NEXT Up: Inspiring Pittsburgh’s next generation of leaders with Lisa Abel-Palmieri

Lisa M. Abel-Palmieri

Lisa at the National Association of Independent Schools conference in Baltimore. All photos courtesy Holy Family Academy.

Lisa Abel-Palmieri is head of school and chief learning officer at Holy Family Academy (HFA), an innovative, STEM-focused, independent Catholic high school in Emsworth. A self-described “disruptor, designer and change agent,” Lisa is deeply involved in educational innovation and the empowerment of young leaders in Pittsburgh. Co-founder and organizer of EdCampPGH, Lisa also serves on the planning committee for the Three Rivers EdTech Conference. A South Hills native, Lisa lives in Baldwin with her husband, Clayton, her son, Anthony, and their cat, Ming.

Monday, August 7

I’ll start off the week by meeting with Holy Family Academy’s EdTech manager and checking in on the construction of our new FabLab (Fabrication Laboratory), where students will have the opportunity to design and create projects using high-tech fabrication equipment like 3D scanners and laser cutters. We’ll be one of the first Pittsburgh-area schools to have a resource like this, so we’re pretty excited about it.

In the same vein, I’ll head over to Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in East Liberty to meet with fellow members of Remake Learning’s Maker Working Group to discuss how Pittsburgh can support its youth in building 21st-century skills.

In the evening, I’ll unwind with my family in South Park. My son loves visiting the ducks.

Tuesday, August 8

I’ll have my final meeting with HFA’s internship team to match students with the partner companies and organizations where they’ll be on-site for their weekly internships. It’s crunch time in our preparations for the upcoming term; our first senior class begins their school year in less than a month!

I’ll also have a call with Tim Jones, chief visionary officer of HipHopEd, a fabulous organization that integrates hip-hop into educational curriculum to engage and empower students in culturally relevant ways.

Lisa Abel-Palmieri

Lisa ziplining and rappelling in Mexico.

Wednesday, August 9

I’ll start the day with a breakfast scone and a Smokestack Mocha at Anchor and Anvil Coffee Bar in Ben Avon before meeting with folks at the Saturday Light Brigade radio program to discuss continuing our Network Campus partnership next year; we think it’s a great addition to our off-campus learning program, during which HFA students spend time learning at a variety of partner sites tied to their personal passions.

Tonight I get to have dinner with my friend and fellow educator Tammy Miles Brown at Stagioni. Their made to order mozzarella is killer.

At 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, I hop on Twitter for #dtk12chat, a weekly conversation on design thinking in K-12 education that I co-founded. Hundreds of educators from around the world participate, which makes for some fascinating discussion.

Thursday, August 10

I’ll meet with our staff to plan major events for 2017-2018, including graduation. (Yes, already. It comes at you faster than you’d think!)

In the afternoon, I’ll meet with Terra Lee Mayes from Focus on Renewal. We’re planning a Pan-Asian cooking activity and lunch for teachers to kick off the new school year later this month.

After work it’s time to hit the pool–swimming lessons with my son!

Friday, August 11

I’ll meet up with some HFA students for lunch downtown at BRGR to hear about their experiences with the summer employment program Learn and Earn. I love these opportunities to check in with students about the interesting and important things they’re up to and how we might bring their experiences back to campus this fall.

This time of year, my family likes to finish off the week with Summer Fridays at the Frick. We just love this little gem in the city; it has something for everyone. This weekend, the entertainment at Summer Fridays at the Frick will be provided by Tuika’s Polynesian Island Magic

Lisa Abel-Palmieri

Lisa with Adarian Williams and KeShawn Sheppard at Holy Family Academy’s semi-formal at the Teamsters Hall.

Saturday, August 12

Today I’ll be working on the capstone project for my Deeper Learning Equity Fellowship. My focus is on expanding internship programs in high schools across the nation by conducting a research study at Big Picture Learning member schools.

In the afternoon, I’ll get to check out something quite exciting: The Beauty of STEM maker fashion show at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Homewood. The fashions are created by students at TekStart, and the event is a wonderful showcase for the community but for particularly students underserved and underrepresented in STEM careers, and particularly young women, to share their creativity through technology and design.

Afterward, the whole family will head to the SouthSide Works Car Cruise and Food Festival, because my son loves cars.

Sunday, August 13

Today we’ll head to Presque Isle State Park to decompress before the school year starts. We like Presque, because the beach is lovely, it’s not too far from home, and it’s very family-friendly. Family is really the main theme of this and every week for me. At work I have my “school family,” and at home I have my “family family.” I love them both!

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About The Author

Arts + Events editor

Former arts & culture editor of Pop City; worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art. Co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania and co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. In a band called The Garment District; founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.

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