University of Pittsburgh

alumni hall

It’s the Principal

Written by Lauren Mylo

In a university lab, college students prepare to teach a group of middle-schoolers how robot construction works. But before the collegians can even begin their presentation, their young students pick up electronic parts and deftly assemble some simple robots. The youngsters have an edge: They’ve been using Lego Mindstorms—programmable devices that teach robot design—for months.

It’s unusual for middle schoolers to have access to robot software and tools, but the principal of their school, Regina Holley (EDUC ’80G, ’88G), makes sure that her students have the same opportunities, or better, than most. Principal Holley leads the elementary and intermediate campuses of Pittsburgh Lincoln, a K-8 school with sites in Pittsburgh’s Lincoln-Larimer and Lemington neighborhoods. She has helped her students to consistently outperform their peers, including those at wealthier schools with more resources.

Driven by her conviction that seeking opportunities leads to more opportunities, Holley works with her staff to apply for grants that support technologies like Lego Mindstorms and activities like history field trips to Harlem, Philadelphia, and Canada. The trip to the university robot lab was part of a visit to Hampton University in Virginia to encourage students to think about college early in their educational careers.

Holley, president of the Pittsburgh Administrators Association and former president of the Greater Pittsburgh Alliance of Black School Educators, has won praise from colleagues regionally and nationally. Her school also has a high teacher-retention rate, and she is known for her enthusiastic, positive leadership of students and teachers alike. Last year, Holley was the first recipient of the PreK-12 Educator Award from the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, given as part of its Distinguished Alumni Awards program.