Bridget Clement
Bridget Clement
Bridget Clement

At the end of June, Bridget began her position as executive director of Communities In Schools—the country’s largest and most effective drop-out prevention program—where she helps struggling students with both academic and non-academic issues by mobilizing community resources and delivering them on-site where they matter most.

Monday, September 7 (Labor Day)

What does a mother of three and the new executive director of Communities In Schools (CIS) do during one week in Pittsburgh?

First, I breathe a sigh of relief that we made it through the first full week back to school. My three girls—Ellie (12) a 7th grade literary artist at Pittsburgh CAPA, Olivia (10) a 4th grader at Beechwood Elementary and Danica (6) a kindergarten student (also at Beechwood)—are all beginning to get back into the routine of school. Although I’m grateful for the consistency of school—no more driving all over the city to get one to a camp, make a meeting with a funder and then pick up the other two at another location—I know what lies ahead once this eerily calm first week in September comes to a close. The remainder of September will consist of meetings and events to re-introduce CIS to the region, followed by homework, dance lessons and science projects that have no end in sight. But in my experience, we have one more blissful week before the blinding activity of the school year really gets going.

This week, we’ll use our extra day off to squeeze in one more family activity. Today we will go to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, for our first opportunity to visit the new exhibit, The Islands. We’re all excited to explore the new environment as well as visit our favorite animals. After our time at the zoo, we’ll spend time with family friends at a neighborhood picnic in Beechview—all of us providing moral support to each other over a glass of wine.

Tuesday, September 8

The day begins with my husband and me getting our kids out the door and off to school. Then I will have the chance to grab a cup of coffee at Brew on Broadway as I head to Kingsley Association in East Liberty where CIS is located. Much of the day will be committed to working with my dedicated site coordinators, teachers and our mentor supervisor to make sure all of our programs are off and running since most of the schools we partner with have begun their academic year. We’ll also work on plans for our upcoming annual meeting and our impact report. Hopefully I’ll manage a few moments to grab another coffee at Zeke’s. One of the advantages of working in East Liberty is the vibrant business community.

Wednesday, September 9

Another busy morning leads to a meeting with Don Block, executive director of the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, at their main offices downtown. Since part of the work we do at CIS is to deliver resources directly into schools, it is important to identify great area nonprofits like GPLC that can help families in need. Some of the schools we work with have rising populations of ESL (English as a Second Language) families, and together, GPLC and CIS can provide some great support to those families.

My afternoon is full of orthodontics, as my oldest Ellie begins the process of getting braces. But she’s in great hands at Good Orthodontics in Mt. Lebanon. After the dental appointment we’ll stop by the beautifully rebuilt Beechview Library.

Thursday, September 10

I love working so close to Bakery Square. It’s a great place to meet and Social has become one of my favorite places—so much so that I have lunch scheduled there with Keith Schmidt and Joe Nickel from Bridge Connections and after work, I’ll meet my friend and former co-worker Lauren Brown there for drinks.

Friday, September 11

The morning begins with a conference call with the CIS state office. I spend time every month checking in and getting support from Ryan Riley. He’s been a great help in providing guidance during my transition.

Friday night means family pizza night with pizza from Slice on Broadway—hands-down the best pizza ever—followed by a movie or games. It’s an opportunity for all of us to unwind from the week.

Saturday, September 12

A Saturday tradition in our house is spent going to the Strip District (Wholey’s, Mancini’s Bakery, Prestogeorge, etc.) and to Jerry’s Records in Squirrel Hill. My husband is an avid vinyl collector so we make it to Jerry’s and Sound Cat Records in Bloomfield at least once a week.

Saturday evening we are looking forward to watching the fireworks from the Pirates game on the roof of Pittsburgh CAPA—where 150 families will be on downtown to enjoy the view and raise much needed support for the school.

Sunday, September 13

To help the girls expend some energy, we’ll take them to Flight Pittsburgh, an indoor trampoline park in Bridgeville. It’s a great way to get some exercise. Then a quiet dinner at home in preparation for the week ahead. Next week starts dance at Technique by Toni—which will keep us busy for the rest of the year.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...