West Jefferson Hills is a public school district eight miles south of metropolitan Pittsburgh. The district, comprised of three communities–West Elizabeth, Jefferson Hills and Pleasant Hills–is approximately 20 square miles featuring tightly-knit neighborhoods as well as rolling countryside that borders the Monongahela River. The area is a showcase of family friendly amenities with an arboretum, innovative libraries and recreation facilities that feature numerous well-equipped parks, biking trails, athletic playing fields, roller hockey rinks and a new high school natatorium the community can access.
The district maintains a strong connection with a close-knit community and daily reinforces its three Personal Core Values - Respect, Integrity and Empathy. Generations of family members have attended WJH schools and continue to reside in the district. Families relocating to the Pittsburgh area have chosen to live in the district due to its strong reputation, community amenities and proximity to downtown. The district is supportive of working parents and caregivers by offering before and after school care for students.
District officials have an excellent working relationship with representatives from each borough and community-based partnerships that include participating in community and civic events and organizations. We have developed partnerships with the local chamber of commerce, rotary clubs, Jefferson Hospital, Coffee Tree Roasters, Pleasant Hills Borough/Council, Jefferson Borough/Council, and West Elizabeth Borough/Council. Our ability to make partnerships with these businesses and outside community groups continue to strengthen our programming for our students and reach our mission of fostering positive relationships.
Safety and emergency services within are provided by a staff of dedicated police officers, volunteer firefighters and emergency personnel, who visit with students at each school multiple times every year. Safety of its students is paramount to the district. Meetings are held yearly with the local police departments to continually review and update our school safety plans and work in collaboration. We maintain Emergency Operation Plans and share those with the appropriate agencies both within and outside of the district.
Addressing the District’s Rapid Growth
The district is among the fastest growing in Allegheny County and the Commonwealth. Enrollment, and the diversity of the student population, is projected to continue growing rapidly, with several housing developments planned or under construction that will add approximately 400 single family homes in the district. The number of English as a Second Language (ESL) students has more than quadrupled since 2017-18.
Pennsylvania Department of Education data revealed that the district’s enrollment increased 12.1% from 2016-17 to 2021-22, the second-fastest in Allegheny County. The 12.1% increase ranked 20th out of the 496 school districts statewide. There were 3,249 students enrolled in District schools in 2021-22, a figure that is projected to rise to 3,672 by 2028-29, marking an additional 11.5% increase over the next seven years. Data released in November 2022 revealed the district has the fastest-growing enrollment in Allegheny County and 10th fastest in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The district has addressed improving the learning environment, rising enrollment, and the safety and well-being of students with additional full and part-time staff positions over the past several years, while maintaining fiscal responsibility, that include:
- One-to-one technology for every student;
- Launching a full-day Kindergarten program and ensuring that each school building had a dedicated School Police Officer in 2018-19;
- Opening the state-of-the-art Thomas Jefferson High School and expanding Gill Hall Elementary School in 2019-20;
- Partnering with the Allegheny Health Network’s Chill Project to place professional counselors in the intermediate, middle and high schools available to assist Grades 3-12 students and staff with anxiety, stress and mindful awareness.
Coupled with the Chill Project, the district also offers school-based counseling for families that qualify through insurance in Grades 3-12. This service allows for counseling in a way convenient to homes, while meeting the needs of students and families. During the 2022-2023 school year, the district also added an elementary school counselor position to give every school a dedicated counselor, which included Grades K-2.
Steady Progress in Academic Achievement
The district strives for an innovative, flexible, student-centered learning environment at each of its school buildings. Curriculum introduced by the district during the past five years has produced steady progress in the academic achievement of its students, notwithstanding the interruption in learning that occurred during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. District students consistently are exceeding state test score averages, with 98% of students graduating.
The new Thomas Jefferson High School provides plentiful and flexible opportunities for students to assist with college and career readiness, including: Steel Center for Career and Technical Education, job shadowing, work Co-Op program, a career panel series, mentor groups, working at Coffee Tree Roasters and Jaguar Den in the building, an Incubator program and career connections between schools and the community. Numerous scholarships are available for students to assist with their post-secondary transition.
Thomas Jefferson students broke school records in 2021-22 for AP students (236), AP exams administered (398) and AP students with 3+ scores (161). The number of TJ students taking AP exams increased 28% from 2018-19 to 2021-22, while AP exams administered were up 36% over the three-year period.
The district has expanded Life Skills programs to all grade levels, as well as educational opportunities for special education students.
The district has significant offerings of extracurricular opportunities for students, including:
- Vibrant and award-winning arts programming, including a state-of-the art 1,000-seat theater used by students and the community for concerts, musicals, plays, recitals and assemblies.
- Rich tradition of Section, WPIAL and PIAA championship-caliber sports offered in the middle and high schools.
- Expansive and popular clubs, activities and interest groups (50-plus between HS and MS).
Thomas Jefferson has been ranked the No. 15 high school out of 132 in metro Pittsburgh by U.S. News & World Report the past two years. In 2022, Pleasant Hills Middle School (PHMS) was re-designated as a Pennsylvania Donald Eichhorn “School to Watch” as part of a recognition program developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform. The Schools to Watch (STW) program recognizes schools achieving academic excellence based on rigorous criteria. Pleasant Hills MS is among a select cadre of 36 active STW schools in the Commonwealth and approximately 700 from across the nation and was initially designated as a School to Watch in 2014 and was re-designated in 2017.
All community members aged 65 and over, or retired due to disability (regardless of age) are entitled to receive a Gold Card for free admittance to all school-sponsored events. To receive a Gold Card, simply stop by the administration building and fill out a quick form, or click here for a form, fill out and drop off at the administration building. All it takes is a few minutes and you will receive your card immediately. Now you can begin to enjoy all home, regular-season sporting events, band and choral concerts, musical productions, and plays free of charge!
For further information, please visit the links provided above.