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Senior Spotlight | Cierra Price-Knight

March 04, 2024
By Jonathan Winkler

Cierra Price-Knight


It’s never a dull moment in TNA Senior Cierra Price-Knight’s world. A Penn Hills native, Cierra’s life revolves around community, competitive sports, and as of late, college acceptances!

“I’ve been accepted to 14 colleges, and my goal is to earn a BS in Nursing,” Cierra said. “While Pennsylvania has a major footprint in healthcare, I want to explore new places. Why not get out and look for more?”

Her top five schools are Morgan State University (MD), University of Akron (OH), Robert Morris University (PA), Delaware State University (DE), and Claflin University (SC). Cierra also plans to possibly major or minor in Criminology and capitalize on her passion for investigating and problem solving. Her schedule outside the realm of academics is jam-packed with volunteerism, sports, and self-expression.

“I’m involved at Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Lawrenceville as a youth choir director and coordinate our holiday show and our Fourth Sunday youth scripture readings. I also like to dance, sing, and act,” she said. “At TNA I play basketball and compete in track and field. I also play flag football on the side. I always like a good audience.”

Cierra has the record for most blocked shots in a basketball game (13). She played volleyball, currently runs the girls 200-meter sprint, and throws shot put, discus, and javelin in Field. She hopes to continue doing Track and Field in college.

Cierra’s favorite memory at TNA is of her sophomore year pep rally when fellow classmate, Brent Jernigan, Jr. performed and the students stormed the basketball court in celebration. Given her competitive spirit, she always enjoys a good Blue and Orange competition – TNA’s annual school-wide games.

Cierra enjoys her family and has an older brother and younger sister, who is a TNA freshman. She has a love of different cultures and cultural foods, stemming from her Jamaican parents who ran a Caribbean-inspired restaurant in East Liberty. Cierra looks forward to TNA’s upcoming international trip to Italy and Greece in spring 2024 to see the sights and test her taste buds.

“Trying the foods is big for me. I’m looking forward to comparing real Italian and Greek foods with ours here in America,” she said. “We’ll be traveling for almost two weeks, and that will be plenty of time for me to explore the cultures.”

Supporters Corner | The Reverend Karie Charlton

March 04, 2024
By Jonathan Winkler

The Reverend Karie Charlton


The Reverend Karie Charlton of Green Tree was the Associate Pastor at Third Presbyterian Church from 2014 to 2023, and her personal vocation has always benefited the students and mission of The Neighborhood Academy.

Third Presbyterian Church was an ‘Over The Bridge’ donor which supports the cost of educating a student for three years. Rev. Charlton always had a special connection with their sponsored student, Anthony Duckett ‘20.

“The church has a community bulletin board, and anytime I saw Anthony featured on social media or had any news about him, I would post it on the board,” said Rev. Charlton. “Anthony was a very bright student, won science awards, and was on the basketball team. I would meet with him at TNA’s graduations at Third Presbyterian Church, and even went to a Pirates game with him.”

“Rev. Tom Johnson’s father was the previous sexton at Third Presbyterian Church. I always heard stories of Tom wearing his football pads and running the stairs of the church for condition training when he was in high school,” said Rev. Charlton. “It was always fun when he visited the building as an adult. He always had a story to tell – the man is a legend.”

Like many, Rev. Charlton’s favorite memory of TNA is walking through the doors of the academic building and being greeted by the students, faculty, and staff.

“Someone at the door is always happy to see you at TNA. When I first walked into the school, I was greeted by name, offered a beverage, and took a tour,” said Rev. Charlton. “The students glow! And it is clear that the building is very special to them.”

After meeting with TNA’s former Director of Counseling Services, Debbie Krochka, and former English Instructor, Jennifer Kane, Rev. Charlton got involved in TNA’s chapel services, teacher orientation, and teaching menstrual health to the female students.

Rev. Charlton has been donating to The Neighborhood Academy through automatic monthly donations since 2017.

“My TNA donation leaves my bank account on the same day my paycheck arrives. For me, giving isn’t a sacrifice, and with automatic donations, I don’t even notice!” said Rev. Charlton. “I live in abundance of what remains after giving.”

Please contact Landis Erwin, Director of Development, at 412-626-6851 x104 or if you are interested in setting up automatic monthly donations.

Supporters Corner | Pat Kennedy

March 04, 2024
By Jonathan Winkler

Pat Kennedy


Pat is an active member at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Highland Park and finds her purpose by giving back to her community and to The Neighborhood Academy. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pat and her late husband lived all over the country and returned to Pittsburgh in 2002. No matter where they lived, they were always active in their faith community.

“My husband worked for Gulf Oil, and we lived north, south, east, west and eventually came back to Pittsburgh,” she said. “I first heard about The Neighborhood Academy when Rev. Tom Johnson spoke at Fox Chapel Episcopal Church. My husband joined a group of gentlemen who helped prepare meals when the school was in Garfield. When we transferred to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, that’s when we really began getting involved,” said Pat.

For years, St. Michael’s of the Valley in Ligonier has stuffed and donated backpacks for TNA students as a back-to-school gesture. As the school began to grow larger and larger, the task of stuffing and delivering the backpacks became quite the task, and St. Michael’s reached out to St. Andrew’s for assistance.

“At the time, I was the head of outreach at St. Andrew’s, and we were happy to help,” said Pat. The backpacks are such a wonderful project, and we’ve been involved ever since!”

While at St. Andrew’s, Pat was on the vestry twice and was also the Sr. Warden, and her service to TNA did not stop at the annual backpack donation. Three or four times a year, she and the Outreach Committee re-stock TNA’s family essentials, items not covered by food stamps. She has also invited TNA leadership and alumni to update St. Andrew’s congregation during their ‘Minute for Ministry.’

“It’s important that our congregation gets a ‘Hello, Neighbor’ from some of the groups we support. I want TNA to be more than just a name of a school that they hear,” said Pat. “We make sure St. Andrew’s Outreach Committee take tours of TNA annually to see the beautiful academic building and meet the students,” said Pat.

To give back for all the support, TNA students rake leaves and do some minor landscaping on St. Andrew’s grounds. To keep her mind sharp, Pat takes classes through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute hosted by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

“After one of my classes, I asked the instructor if he was familiar with The Neighborhood Academy, since he taught at Pittsburgh Public Schools. He said to me, ‘There should be 30 Neighborhood Academies in Pittsburgh’… The work the school does, the students, the whole approach is so different from public schools. It’s beautiful.”

Alumni Highlight | Kaylyn Glenn

March 04, 2024
By Jonathan Winkler

TNA Class of 2013
Kaylyn Glenn


Kaylyn is a registered nurse at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville overseeing patients in the Cardiac Thoracic Intensive Care (CTICU). Kaylyn graduated from Slippery Rock University in 2017 with a major in Public Health and received her nursing degree at West Penn Hospital in 2022. She currently resides in the East End of Pittsburgh, is engaged to be married, and is pursuing her Bachelor of Nursing at Capella University.

“We perform open heart surgery at the CTICU where I am stationed, and I assist the patients in their recovery,” said Kaylyn. “I see them through their entire stay at the hospital, and it is special to see them get stronger, healthier, and eventually be discharged under my care.”

Kaylyn’s passion for working in healthcare alongside doctors and fellow nurses came to her at an early age from her own experience as a long-term patient.

As a first-grader, Kaylyn was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease, a rare disease in children that causes inflammation, high fever, nose bleeds, and swellings in the tongue and glands.

“I still don’t know how I got it, but I was in the hospital for over a month. I was around nurses and doctors a lot,” said Kaylyn. “Ever since then, I wanted to work in healthcare. I always knew in the back of my head I would.” Kaylyn said that she would one day like to switch from working in the CTICU to the Labor and Delivery unit.

Kaylyn works 12-hour shifts from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. three times a week, and often resets her mind and body at her gym: Burn Boot Camp in Murrysville.

“People always talked about nursing being a hard field – and it is,” she said. “My life is work, school, and wedding planning, so I go to the gym four to five times a week to relieve stress!”

Kaylyn also enjoys traveling with her fiancé, Oshay, and together recently visited the Dominican Republic and France. They also like to embark on short, local road trips when they have time.

“Seeing that TNA is taking international trips to places like London, Barcelona, and Paris makes me want to go back!” laughed Kaylyn.

Kaylyn is happy to hear that TNA has opened a Middle School for Girls. “I’m overjoyed to see that girls can enjoy the full middle school/high school experience and learn beside their friends from 6th grade to graduation,” she said.

Alumni Highlight | Jamar Robinson

March 04, 2024
By Jonathan Winkler

TNA Class of 2021
Jamar Robinson

Jamar has written his own personal code for a successful future. Currently a third-year student at Slippery Rock University, Jamar majors in Computing with a concentration in Information Technology (IT) and has a minor in both Information Systems and Business Administration. Aside from his academics, Jamar is involved in campus clubs and even dabbles in graphic design.

“I aim to one day land a job in web development or IT. IT is a wide field and would allow me to work with either computer hardware or computer software,” he said. “Whatever I do in the future, it has to involve my ‘big three’: computing, business, and creativity.”

To satisfy his creative side, Jamar does graphic design for club social media posts and his friend’s clothing brand. He also works on personal graphic design projects as well.
At the university, he is the President of the Black Action Society, and he is the Public Relations Chair for the school’s Kings Organization, which mentors and creates programming for Black men on campus.

“The Black Action Society is a student-run club that spearheads racial injustices and promotes the lifestyle of Black students in a predominantly white institution,” he said. “As president, I have a lot of responsibilities and must address and schedule important things that come up all the time. I’ve realized that leadership is something you have to dive in and do in order to learn and understand it.”

In his pursuit of excellence, Jamar reads many self-help books and takes wisdom from Curtis James Jackson III, also known professionally as rapper 50 Cent.

“50 Cent inspires me the most – he splits himself between his rapper persona and his business self. Back in 2007, he earned millions of dollars through his partnership with Vitamin Water,” said Jamar. “He is not just a rapper, he is a business mogul, and I’m inspired by the way he carries himself.”

A quote from 50 Cent’s book Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter sticks with Jamar, and he uses it to remind himself to never let an idea stay an idea; that it is important to take action.

“When ideas only live in your mind, it is easy for you to lose track of them. Even if they’re extremely powerful, they get lost in the stream of new information that’s constantly entering your head.”

Senior Spotlight | Samaira

October 10, 2023
By Jonathan Winkler

TNA Class of 2024


TNA Senior, Samaira, of Penn Hills has had quite a summer participating in programs feeding her passion for math and engineering. Samaira has completed Carnegie Mellon University's five-week Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS) program, and a week-long program through Robert Morris University and NAIOP Pittsburgh to explore the world of commercial real estate.

“I absolutely love math and science, and someday I want to become a mechanical or civil engineer,” Samaira said. “These programs have been really cool. I lived on campus at CMU and met so many different people. It was nice seeing minorities like myself, too. The experience was very ‘college-like’ with the independence and freedom to meet the professors.”

Soon after Samaira completed the SAMS program, she went on to explore another potential career path: commercial real estate.

“At the Robert Morris NAIOP Pittsburgh program, my team and I won first place for our design of a new eco-friendly warehouse. It had solar panels and everything needed to reduce its carbon footprint. I even won a personal award for being the ‘Most Transformative’ since I was nervous and shy for the first few days.”

Samaira hopes to be accepted to North Carolina A&T State University, Harvard, Columbia, or Georgia Tech. She credits her love of engineering and math to a SeaPerch program in which she participated when she was in 5th-7th grades. SeaPerch is an educational tool that allows students to construct remotely operated underwater vehicles using engineering skills.

In her free time, she enjoys reading adventure books (her favorite being Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson), doing math equations out of her own practice booklet, and cycling with Pittsburgh Youth Leadership (PYL).

“Cycling is relaxing and fun to me, and I completed my first trip with PYL to Cumberland, MD in the spring,” Samaira said. “Friends would tell me all about the trips they would go on, and I was never sure about it. Then one day, I said, ‘Okay, sign me up.’”

Samaira is appreciative of TNA Math Instructor Jason Scott for his consistent help and guidance.

“Mr. Jason is my advisor, and I have always enjoyed the way he teaches and how he is able to drop everything to help students understand something,” she said. “Even if you had trouble with other classes’ homework, he would help you. He always made time to read over my U.S. History papers!”

Supporters Corner | Bob and Susan Edwards

September 13, 2023
By Jonathan Winkler

Bob and Susan Edwards


Bob and Susan Edwards of Wexford are strong in their Christian faith and their advocacy of The Neighborhood Academy. Bob and Susan both worked for 30+ years at PNC Financial Services and GlaxoSmithKline, respectively, and are now enjoying their retirement through travel, volunteerism, and golf.

Susan was introduced to TNA in 2020 through Carolyn Sanford, Assistant Head of School for Development, and Susan’s former college roommate.

“We believe that education effectively sets up the trajectory of a person’s future. Thriving in school and making good life choices creates a solid tomorrow,” said Susan. “A value-based life can make a huge difference in society,” Bob agreed. “If I had a magic wand, I would do two things: give everyone a good education and open everyone’s eyes to faith. TNA does both from our perspective.”

Bob and Susan are also very supportive of Penn State where Bob serves as the vice chairman of the Schreyer Honors College’s External Advisory Board. The Edwards invited Honors College Dean Patrick Mather to join them to tour TNA. He was so impressed with the school and the students; he used the word ‘inspiring’ more than once to describe the school. Bob noted, “Each student we met at TNA looked us right in the eye, shook our hand, and welcomed us.”

Bob and Susan sponsor a student’s tuition every year and use the PA Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program to redirect their PA State tax liability to approved schools such as TNA and receive a 90% PA tax credit.

“The EITC program is so easy. It’s a little-known option, but it really lets our tax dollars work hard to help these students. We do it year after year,” said Susan.

Meet the Event Chairs of the 2023 Speaker Series | Steve Harms

August 09, 2023
By Jonathan Winkler

Meet the Event Chairs

Steve Harms


Steve Harms is an Assurance Trust partner within PwC’s Banking & Capital Markets practice with over 15 years of experience serving large national and multinational banks, multinational asset managers, fintech lending companies, government sponsored entities, private equity funds, and broker-dealers. He is an active member of The Neighborhood Academy’s Development Committee. Steve fulfills several internal firm roles at PwC such as serving as a member of the New Partner Advisory Committee, and a point partner for the firm’s Digital Innovation & Technology strategy.

Steve was introduced to TNA through fellow PwC partner, and current TNA Board Member, Kirsten Albert, and he has been instrumental in the success of the 2023 Speaker Series.

“Once I came to the school and started meeting the students, I knew it was the place for me. TNA’s mission aligns directly with two principal values of mine: faith and education.”

Steve is inspired by TNA students’ enthusiasm for learning and is motivated to even continue his own educational journey.

“The students help keep me feeling young, eager, and inspire me to be a better version of myself… Hearing all the individual success stories of the students/graduates – and knowing I may have had an ever-so-small part in helping them achieve their goals – is a feeling that can’t be replaced.”

Steve is inspired by Anthony Ray Hinton’s book The Sun Does Shine, and its message of perseverance, devotion, and unwavering faithfulness.

“Even after all the struggles the world has unjustly put upon him, his continued selflessness serves as a true inspiration for the greater community. What makes his message particularly noteworthy is his positive attitude and persistence to never give up hope for exoneration... His life serves as a reminder of the importance of equity and justice for all."

Steve is a father of three and enjoys being a volunteer coach on their baseball and soccer teams. He also loves going on long runs and taking his one-year-old daughter in her stroller along for the ride!

Meet the Event Chairs of the 2023 Speaker Series | Shevey and Annie Westbrook

August 09, 2023
By Jonathan Winkler

Meet the Event Chairs

Shevey and Annie Westbrook


Annie was born and raised in Pittsburgh! She majored in mathematics at The University of Pennsylvania, and upon graduating, she moved to Atlanta, GA, to teach high school math at Woodward Academy. In 2003 she returned to Pittsburgh to attend the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.  

“After receiving my MBA, I started banking at Mellon Bank, moved onto TriState Capital Bank and now currently work for CIBC Bank USA out of the Frick Building downtown!” said Annie.  “I am a Managing Director assisting middle market businesses with their financial needs from working capital lines of credit to term financing to managing risk via interest rate and commodity derivatives,” she continued.

Shevey grew up in Mt. Union, PA. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a bachelor’s degree in Material Science and Engineering, he moved to Atlanta and joined a specialty chemical company as a polymer and process development engineer.  Annie and Shevey met on a soccer field in Atlanta!

“After 4 years in Atlanta, I made the decision to join Annie in Pittsburgh, where we subsequently got married, have 3 wonderful children, became part owners of Allegheny Performance Plastics, and live as quiet as a life as possible in Aspinwall!” said Shevey.

Prior to the full concept of TNA coming to life in 2001, Reverend Tom Johnson ran a summer program out of various churches across Pittsburgh. Annie tutored the students in math for multiple summers.

“I enjoyed every student I got to know and every interaction we had… I learned as much from my students as they learned from me!” she said.

When Annie and Shevey returned to Pittsburgh, they found ways to reengage with TNA: serving dinner to students with their Sunday school class, tutoring math, and hosting fundraising events.

Annie was even on the bank team that secured financing for the construction of TNA’s current campus on North Aiken Avenue!

Annie and Shevey were the Event Chairs for the 2021 Speaker Series featuring Wes Moore and are proud of be at the helm coordinating this special event again.

“The TNA Speaker Series is a wonderful platform to magnify the importance of telling your story.  Each of our students has a unique story and is able to find their voice at TNA.  Anthony Ray Hinton’s life and story is one of hope, perseverance, resilience, and strength. One can only be inspired by Ray’s ability to survive and thrive.”

Alumni Spotlight | Aniya Jackson

July 18, 2023
By Marcus Platt

TNA Class of 2018

Aniya Jackson


Aniya Jackson is a TNA Graduate of the class of 2018 and  recently earned her bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Slippery Rock University in August of 2022.

Currently, Aniya works as a Care Manager for LifeSpan, a non profit organization located in Homestead, PA, to assist senior citizens and their needs. Her duties as a care manager consists of offering support to Allegheny County residents aged 60 or older with a variety of services such as housing services, meals, and any other accommodations they may need in their senior living communities.

“I’ve always been the kind of person who likes or takes pride in helping  and assisting other people.” Aniya adds.

When asked about her college experience, Aniya lets out a sigh of relief and sums up her college experience in a few words, “Covid happened,” after letting out a brief chuckle, she elaborated. Despite two of her four years at SRU being virtual, she did her best to remain involved on campus in student organizations when the opportunities presented themselves. “Freshman year was one of my easier years, and I can credit that to the work ethic TNA instilled in me throughout my years there and thanks to my Jumpstart program.” – A freshman orientation program where incoming freshmen move-in to the dorms early to familiarize themselves with their classmates and the campus.

“The workload was more manageable than I'd expected thanks to all of the prep that TNA had done with me beforehand (writing long papers, reading and annotating, studying outside of class, etc.). I can say that thanks to that, I was better prepared than my peers for college”

During her sophomore and junior years, we were faced with the pandemic and Aniya was forced to adapt from being in class everyday, to attending  all of her classes virtually. Aniya says it was not an easy adjustment for her during that  time. “I’m not the biggest fan of virtual classes,” she explained “It was hard for me to stay motivated for classes when I could attend them in my pajamas, but I was determined to finish what I had started.” She persevered  until eventually the campus was reopened by the end of  her junior year, and the students were invited to come back to Slippery Rock. This was when she began to get more involved in student organizations on campus. It was then that she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority incorporated, and became the president of an organization on campus called Queens,  a black student run organization which serves as a safe space for minorities on campus, primarily focused but not limited to the African American community on Slippery Rock’s campus.

As for the future , Aniya has hopes of going back to school to pursue a postgraduate degree, although  she is unsure of what she wants to major in at the moment. “I’m not 100% certain about my decision yet,” she says, “a few of my peers are pursuing their master’s degrees which is encouraging to me and make[s] me want to give it a try, but I’m also at a place in my life where I am trying to figure out what is next for me professionally.”

Aniya says that she has many fond TNA memories, she was a student athlete participating in volleyball and track & field, but she says her fondest memory was having the opportunity to travel abroad with The Neighborhood Academy to Barcelona, Madrid and France.

“It was this experience that opened my eyes to the beauty of travel and learning about different cultures, and it made me want to explore more!” Aniya says. “I remember it snowing in France and it was cold, and the students from a different school in Florida were so surprised seeing snow for the first time and meanwhile us Pittsburghers are like ‘we’re used to this’ and we had a laugh about it.”

Aniya shared this bit of advice from all her experiences: , “Don’t be afraid to put yourself in positions to be more knowledgeable. You never know what you’re going to learn and where it can take you.” She also adds “Don't be afraid to try something and fail, there’s lessons in that and lastly, be open minded because an open mind can take you a lot further than a close mind can.” 

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