At the end of this month, Pittsburgh Public School District Assistant Superintendant Derrick Lopez will resign from his position to take on a new appointment as president and CEO of Homewood Children’s Village. HCV is a Homewood-based initiative that will provide wrap-around services for students and families connected with the Academy at Westinghouse, Pittsburgh Faison K-5 and Pittsburgh Lincoln K-5.
“It really is a deepening of the work I have done in Homewood. It’s really about wrapping our arms around our families so our children can come to school ready to learn. I think schools do education well, but in order for our children to succeed, schools need to help families become whole,” Lopez said. “I hope (HCV) can be a bridge between families and schools. The mission of (HCV) is to reweave the fabric of the Homewood community. It means we have to embrace all the challenges our children face and lower those barriers so that children come to school ready to learn.”
Lopez will officially join the HCV staff on July 5. Over the past few years in his position as chief of high school reform, assistant superintendent for secondary schools, and ultimately assistant superintendent for strategic initiatives, he has been a major supporter of the partnership finalized between PPS and HCV.
“I think it’s a natural progression, I don’t see a conflict at all. Whether I am with the Pittsburgh Public School District or Homewood Children’s Village, I would still be doing this work to support our families,” Lopez said. “I think there is a heart part of this work that’s most important. Educational qualifications stand on their own but I have a heart for the work and the families I’m seeking to serve. I know the school system, but this work is the real hard work of educating students. It really is about having a heart to help families.”
HCV is a comprehensive community initiative connecting residents, faith based community organizations, local and state government, the public school system, and local and national funders. It was modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone, a full service school that addresses challenges such as poverty, violence, poor physical health and family instability.
“Part of it is healthy kids and that’s physically as well as mentally. You also have other components in there for parent involvement to make sure you’ve done everything to engage parents and families. We will also be able to provide some job services to our families,” Lopez said. “Another component is working with the community to make sure our communities are safe for our students in those pathways to and from school.”
Lopez was chosen for his new position by the HCV board of directors.
“We are delighted to have Derrick Lopez join our organization as its first president and CEO,” said HCV Board President John M. Wallace Jr., PhD, an associate professor of social work at the University of Pittsburgh. “Mr. Lopez has an incredible understanding of the strengths and needs of our community and a vision for the enormous impact the Homewood Children’s Village can have on the rebirth and revitalization of Homewood.”
The District has not decided whether or not to fill the vacancy left by Lopez, but plans to announce their decision within the next month. Possible budget cuts in the District in the coming fiscal year could impact their decision.
“We wish Derrick the very best in his new role and look forward to continuing to work with him through our partnership with the Homewood Children’s Village,” said Superintendent Linda Lane. “The Academy at Westinghouse is our first full service community school, which we are doing in partnership with the Homewood Children’s Village. Having someone who understands the District’s perspective as the head of the Homewood Children’s Village will be critical to the success of our implementation.”