City Charter High School

City Charter High School
City Charter High School
717 Liberty Ave., Suite 900, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 Coordinates: 40°26′34″N 79°59′58″W / 40.442717°N 79.999558°W / 40.442717; -79.999558
Type Charter
Motto High School at Life Speed
Established 2002
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 530
Color(s) Red and Gray
Mascot Gargoyle
Founders Mario Zinga, Richard Wertheimer
Chief Executive Officer Richard Wertheimer
Education Manager Mario Zinga

City Charter High School, also known as City High, is a charter school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania self-described as a "21st century school that changes the traditional learning environments for students and teachers. The school model is based on the best educational practices, industry and academic partnerships, organizational innovations and technological advances."[1] It was founded in September 2002 by Richard Wertheimer and Mario Zinga under the non-profit educational company EDSYS, Inc.[2]


Academic achievement

In 2009, US News and World report ranked 21,000 public high schools, in the United States, based on three factors. First, the schools were analyzed for the number of students who achieved above the state average on the reading and math tests in 2008. Then they considered how the economically disadvantaged students performed against the state average. Finally, they considered the participation rate and the performance of students in college readiness by examining Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate test data. Seventy Pennsylvania high schools achieved ranking bronze, silver or gold rating. Fifty three Pennsylvania high schools achieved bronze.[3] City Charter High School achieved Bronze ranking. Eight high schools in Allegheny County and 3 Pittsburgh schools achieved inclusion in the ranking.

Early history

On February 27, 2002, the Pittsburgh Board of Education voted 6-2 (with one abstention) to approve an application for a five-year charter for City Charter High School contingent on it submitting a plan for educating students, showing it can measure student progress,[4] and 4 other conditions. In March 2003 the board was told by district administrators that the charter school had met these conditions, however the board then failed to approve the charter in a 4-3 vote (with two abstentions). Approval of new charters requires 5 affirmatives. After hearing arguments a Common Pleas judge ordered the board to approve the charter, despite the board's opposition.[5]


Richard Wertheimer

Richard Wertheimer is a public school educator whose expertise is in mathematics, technology, school reform, curriculum, and staff development. Most recently, as Coordinator of Instructional Technology, he managed the instructional component of the Pittsburgh Public Schools $25 million Technology Plan (1998–2001). Projects that he has managed include Common Knowledge: Pittsburgh (1993–1998). He was the secondary mathematics supervisor for the Pittsburgh Public Schools from 1988 to 1993. He taught mathematics at Brashear, Peabody and Upper St. Clair High Schools from 1975 to 1988.

Mario Zinga

Mario Zinga is a public school educator whose expertise is in writing, French, Italian, technology and gifted education. His most recent professional responsibility was as co-author and manager of a $1.5 million staff development program funded through grants from the Heinz Endowments and the Pennsylvania Link to Learn program (1998–2001). Prior to this he developed the Common Knowledge: Pittsburgh project, a five-year, $5 million K-12 testbed grant from the National Science Foundation (1993–1998). He taught at East Hills Elementary School and the Pittsburgh Elementary Gifted Center from 1985 to 1993.

On June 24, 2006, the school's first graduating class held its commencement ceremonies at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.[6] The theme of the event was "Breakaway", from the hit Kelly Clarkson song. Graduated seniors have gone on to college careers at schools ranging from Robert Morris, Pitt, Carlow University, and Duquesne to the University of North Carolina, the University of Chicago, Penn State, Neumont University, and York University.[7]


From the charter application:

Academically, the school will offer a rigorous program with students taking four years of Mathematics, Science, English Language Arts, Social Studies and World Languages. Traditional content areas will be grouped into four clusters - scientific literacy (Mathematics and Sciences), Cultural Literacy (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, Arts and Humanities, Social Studies, World Languages), Work-skills Literacy (Career Education, Applied, Computer, Multimedia and Networking Technologies) and Wellness Literacy (Health, Safety and Physical Education). Clustering the curriculum provides opportunities for interdisciplinary instruction. An extended school day and year will support project-based learning. Exemplary instructional materials will be chosen based on their interdisciplinary and project-based orientation. Instruction will be student-centered, thrusting the teacher into the role of facilitator and assessor. Annual standardized assessments will require students to articulate their understanding and mastery of a topic both orally and in writing.

Teaching methods

Team teaching: Faculty members do not have individual offices. Instead, each grade's teachers have a joint office. In the hiring of new staff, teachers are allowed to collectively interview candidates. Some classes, particularly career readiness and research courses, are taught by two teachers simultaneously.

Teacher-student continuity: The same group of teachers work with each graduating class through their four years of high school. This allows the teachers to become more familiar with students' learning styles, and students become more familiar with teachers' styles of teaching. Another benefit is that the teachers, by teaching at a different grade level each year, will not become "burned out" by sheer repetition. When seniors graduate, their teachers start over with the new ninth grade class. Teachers receive a pay increase each time they complete a cycle and elect to start over with a new graduating class.

Staff development: City High teachers do not receive tenure and are not unionized, though they retain that right. They receive a bonus for maintaining perfect or near-perfect attendance[6]Grant, Tim (2006-06-19). "First grads emerge from charter high school". Retrieved 2006-12-13. </ref>--a way of discouraging substitute teachers—and must apply for promotion in order to advance in their careers. There are three levels of teachers: Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master.


All students receive laptop computers (lenovo thinkpad). Accessible from school or home, these allow teachers to integrate technology and the internet fully into the curriculum. Students receive instruction on Adobe Photoshop, submit papers electronically, and can receive certification in any Microsoft Office program. A web application, Edline, tracks all student assignments and is accessible by students and their parents.


The school occupies five floors (constituting approximately 50,000 square feet) of the New Clark Building on Liberty Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. Because of its placement, City High does not have a traditional school campus or facilities (e.g., a gymnasium or auditorium). EDSYS, Inc. has a 10-year lease agreement with Hoban Realty, L.P. (due to expire in 2012). About the location, co-founder Wertheimer said, "This is a perfect location for a career-oriented high school. It is downtown, central to public transportation, businesses, colleges and the cultural district."[8]

City High is the third high school in downtown Pittsburgh; others include Northside Urban Pathways and the Pittsburgh High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA). It is one of five charter schools in the Pittsburgh area. Other charter schools include Northside Urban Pathways, downtown; Career Connections Charter High School, Lawrenceville; Manchester Academic Charter School, Manchester; and the Urban League of Pittsburgh Charter School, East Liberty.

Non-traditional schedule

City High offers year-round schooling, with one three week vacation (April), One five week vacation (July–August) and one four week vacation(December). The school year begins in August. The school day begins at 8:00 AM, later than many high schools in the area, to allow travel time for students. For freshmen and sophomores, the school day ends at 3:45 PM, whereas for juniors and seniors, it ends at 3:35 PM.

Workforce orientation

The school has a heavy orientation toward the workforce and preparation for it. All students are required to go on 13-week internships for which they receive a grade, generally in 11th grade. A significant number of students also take college courses at Community College of Allegheny County in 12th grade. Significant focus is put on information technology as a means to prepare students for the outside world.

FIRST Robotics

In 2006, City High's FIRST Robotics team, The Short Circuits, number 1743, won the Pittsburgh Regionals and in April went on to the Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia. Other awards they received at the Pittsburgh Regionals were the Rookie Inspiration Award and the Highest Rookie Seed Award.[9] The team was sponsored by NASA, NOVA Chemicals, Bally Design, and Monte Cello's.

In 2007 the Short Circuits entered the competition again in the Pittsburgh and Cleveland Regionals. At Pittsburgh they won the website award. They didn't, however, make the finals at either regional. Their sponsors included NASA, Bally Design, and Singularity Clark.

In 2009 the team entered in only the Pittsburgh competition. Finishing 31st out of 34, the team was chosen by team 222, and 1218 for the top alliance. The teams won the competition, and advanced to nationals. At nationals, the team finished 58th out of 80.


  1. ^ "City High Overview". Official City High Web Site. Retrieved 2006-12-13. [dead link]
  2. ^ "EDSYS opening Downtown charter school". Pittsburgh Business Times. 2002-05-16. Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  3. ^ Best High Schools 2008, US News and World Report. December 9, 2009
  4. ^ "City school board OKs charter plan". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  5. ^ Lee, Carmen J. (2002-04-13). "Board ordered to issue charter". Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  6. ^ a b Grant, Tim (2006-06-19). "First grads emerge from charter high school". Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  7. ^ "Class of 2006 College Acceptances". Official City High Web Site. Retrieved 2006-12-13. [dead link]
  8. ^ EDSYS, Inc. signs Lease at the New Clark Building. (PDF). EDSYS, Inc. Official Website. Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  9. ^ "Pittsburgh School Takes Top Honors in Regional Robotics Competition". The Future Is Mine. Retrieved 2006-12-13. 

External links

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