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Legacy Leader: Judie Compher

April 18, 2022
By Jonathan Winkler
‘What should I do with this life I’ve been given?’ is what Judie asked herself after suffering an aortic aneurysm at the age of 35. She realized at this young age how precious life truly is. What legacy could she leave with the time she was given?

Judie has used her years to the fullest, serving as Vice President and President of the Board for the Pittsburgh Aids Task Force, being actively involved with Calvary Episcopal Church, and working for H.J. Heinz Company for 34 years. After retiring at the age of 56, Judie went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in English from Westminster College at the age of 62 (graduating summa cum laude.)

Now-a-days, if it’s Thursday, you can bet Judie is at The Neighborhood Academy tutoring students. 

Before becoming a regular TNA volunteer, Judie was involved at The Neighborhood Academy during Calvary Episcopal Church and Rodef Shalom Congregation’s Mitzvah Days. The Hebrew word "mitzvah" means "good deed,” and the day revolves around local volunteer work.

“I was familiar with The Neighborhood Academy. I clearly remember scrubbing lockers during the Mitzvah Day,” said Judie. “Not only that, but I am friends with Dr. Beverly Harris Schenz and contributed to her Mary Martin Tinsley (MMT) Scholarship Fund.” The MMT Scholarship fund is an endowed scholarship that helps outstanding TNA students in their pursuit of higher education.

 Judie decided to further her volunteering efforts with TNA back in 2019 after attending The Nancy & Paul O’Neill Speaker Series featuring Mark Whitaker. 

 “I noticed in the event program that TNA was looking for tutors, and I knew I was ready to commit my time to helping students… plus I was able to put my English degree to good use!” said Judie. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic halted volunteering soon after the event, but Judie was able to begin her in-person tutoring in September 2021. “When I see the school—the model— and what it does for the students, I’m happy to be a part of it,” she continued.

Judie attended TNA’s latest Speaker Series event in September 2021 that featured Wes Moore: bestselling author, combat veteran, former CEO of Robin Hood, and current candidate for Governor of Maryland. After attending this event, Judie decided it was time to become a member of TNA’s Legacy Society to make a long and lasting impact on the school.

“For some time, I have been flirting with the idea of changing my will to add The Neighborhood Academy, and listening to Wes Moore speak and being part of the benefit really sealed the deal for me… My husband, Keen, was a professor at Westminster College, and education meant so much to him… He passed away over three years ago of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. This donation will keep Keen’s legacy alive by giving others the gift of education.”
On April 18, 2022, The Neighborhood Academy had the pleasure of honoring Judie Compher with the 2021 Volunteer of the Year.


Alumni Spotlight | Charles Coleman

February 16, 2022
By Jonathan Winkler

TNA Class of 2018

Charles Coleman

A senior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), Charles Coleman, 22, is poised to major in Public Health with concentrations in the fields of mental and behavioral health – not to mention a minor in Economics. Charles has been involved in an on-campus Health and Wellness Promotion work study for the past three years, and currently dedicates his time to helping others as an active member of IUP’s Public Health Club.

“I joined the Public Health field with the expectation to change the world and improve people’s well-being,” said Charles. “I enjoy tutoring and mentoring students during the summer. I relate a lot to their struggles when I speak with them and listen to their stories. During my involvement with IUP’s Health and Wellness Promotion work study, my job was to explain the importance of good mental and physical health to the students. I also helped with various projects, events, and presentations focused on everything from sexual health to stress overload, and nutrition basics to suicide awareness.” 

Charles is currently interviewing for an internship for summer 2022 and plans to pursue a master’s degree in Health Service Administration.

 “I have many dreams, but I have realized that it’s important to focus on the ‘now’… I used to worry so much about my future and the what-ifs. I am now finally trying to take things day by day,” said Charles.

To help cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, Charles explored new genres of music – such as pop, country, rap, R&B, and Christian – focusing on the messages they provide within the lyrics.

“I listen to R&B for the love songs, but I also enjoy songs about loving yourself and the space around you. I enjoy Christian music because it not only speaks to the artist’s faith, but to the artist’s failures and pain in life that they have overcome. Christian music helps me realize life is not easy and many things will happen outside our control, but we must move forward and use things that happen to us as fuel to succeed,” said Charles. 

Even today, Charles has TNA coded within his DNA and, much like his taste in music, has taken important messages with him to get him to where he is in life.

“The most important thing I learned from TNA is that if something is not right or if something does not fit well with you, it’s okay to disagree,” said Charles. “Leaving something for the better is not quitting. Leaving something for another opportunity that fits who you are and elevates you only betters yourself. Reverend Thomas Johnson always said ‘You must leave Location A to get to Location B.’”

Charles has goals far beyond a fulfilling career in healthcare or hospitals. 

“My ultimate goal is to create an after-school program that opens doors and adds value to students’ lives by encouraging them to become more than what they may see on a daily basis.”

Supporters Corner | Jean and Henry (Hal) Haller

August 30, 2021
By Marcus Platt

Jean and Henry (Hal) Haller

In 2006, Jean and Henry (Hal) Haller were introduced to TNA co-founder Jodie Moore by their mutual friend, Dave Hunter, who was passionate about providing opportunities for children who attended low performing schools.  Jean and Hal toured the school, met students, and quickly joined the TNA community.

Jean began her involvement by attending girls basketball games and assisting with carpooling.  The Haller’s dedication grew, and they joined the “Over the Bridge Society” which supports a student’s tuition for three years. Student Shannon Prentiss was the beneficiary of the Haller’s generosity, and she is now TNA’s Director of Admissions and College and Career Counseling!

“Having Shannon as one of our “Over the Bridge” students really solidified for us the potential of The Neighborhood Academy,” said Hal.

Shannon enjoyed her time with the Hallers and credits her success in part to their support. 

“During my senior year, the Hallers and I began going to Panera’s regularly so we could catch up!” Shannon reflected. “They have always been extremely welcoming and supportive of my dreams, personally and professionally.”    
Beyond high school, the Hallers supported Shannon’s journey through higher education – from purchasing her first laptop to tuition assistance – helping her to earn two master’s degrees from Carlow University.

“They displayed a level of compassion that I always appreciated. I was able to confide in them my aspirations, fears, and anxieties,” said Shannon. “They helped me build confidence in myself.”

On November 13, 2011, Journeys of Life in Shadyside was destroyed by an electrical fire.  Her store specialized in self-help books, inspirational gifts, and spiritual guidance. The store also served as a resource for people battling addiction and for the professionals who work with them, providing an inspiring gathering place for the Pittsburgh community.

“When Jodie heard about the fire,” Jean mentioned, “she rounded up volunteers to assist us with the cleanup and relocation of her store to a temporary location. Students also created artwork to display in the new location,” said Jean warmly.  
The store was a member of the American Booksellers Association and the Hallers furthered the relationship with TNA students by having them distribute books throughout the Pittsburgh community. 

“TNA students broke into small groups and traveled to different neighborhoods, dropping off books as donations.  We even had Mayor Peduto speak to the students regarding their impact.”  

The Haller family continues to be purposefully involved with the school in many ways.  Jean helped to obtain a 20th Anniversary Proclamation from the City of Pittsburgh which Mayor Peduto presented to the school at Convocation on September 8.  Jean’s and Hal’s son, Ed Haller has been involved with TNA for many years and is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors. 

For more information on how to become a member of the “Over the Bridge Society”, contact Sheila Rawlings, Director of Development at The Neighborhood Academy at 412.626.6851 or

Senior Spotlight | Jocelyn Hargrove

August 17, 2021
By Marcus Platt

TNA Class of 2022



Jocelyn Hargrove a TNA senior and newly-elected President of Student Government, looks forward to the long-awaited day in May 2022: when she can finally call herself a TNA graduate.
Determined to leave her mark as President, Jocelyn looks to make a few changes including plans for more school dances, ‘fun-raising activities,’ and other social functions. Jocelyn even plans to survey the student body to come up with menus for their school meals, and aims to have a designated day where the student body chooses lunch!
“I bring a lot of ambition toward anything that I go after… I have a good amount of determination and a lot of grit,” said Joceyln. 
Aside from Student Government, Jocelyn is active on TNA’s volleyball, basketball, and track teams.
TNA definitely runs in her DNA. Jocelyn’s brother, Desmond graduated from the school in 2018, and her younger brother, Nate, is slated to graduate in 2023, and has also been elected as the Vice President of Student Government. She finds herself in the middle of her siblings, soaking up knowledge and lessons from her older brother, while being the example for her younger brother. 
Upon graduating from TNA, Jocelyn aspires to become a surgeon. She recently completed a 2-week “Healthcare Career Academy” program with The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC.) Through this program, Jocelyn traveled between the West Mifflin and CCAC Boyce (Monroeville) campuses as well as Jefferson Hospital, where she had the opportunity to shadow professionals in the healthcare industry. 
“It was fun! And I learned a lot about the different jobs that exist within the medical industry surrounding surgeons,” she said.
Jocelyn currently has some colleges in mind that she is considering like Temple University, Howard University, and North Carolina A&T University.  
Jocelyn credits TNA’s community as one of the reasons why continues to aim so high.
“What I like most about The Neighborhood Academy is the support system from the staff and faculty as well as the student body,” said Jocelyn. “It really feels like a home away from home… TNA is a great opportunity for a young person who is serious about their goals. Whatever you want to pursue in life, The Neighborhood Academy helps give you the skills to attack whatever is you are pursuing fearlessly.”

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