Carnegie Mellon University

2023–2024 Family Spotlights

October | November | December | January | February | March | April

October 2023: Beautifully Diverse Community


During September, the friends in all our classes got to know each other by sharing information about themselves and their families, which prompted us to discuss similarities and differences so that we can better appreciate the diversity among us. The “All About Me” projects in the preschool and kindergarten give children and families an opportunity to get to know each other better. You will be able to see these projects at the October 18th Open House!

This year, we have 65 families with 67 children in Children’s School programs, including 19 only children.  32 of these families are new to the school. Among our families, we have three in which one parent is a Children’s School alum, and 21 children have one or more older siblings who attended here. Ten of our families have a parent who is a current graduate student, researcher, staff member, or faculty member at Carnegie Mellon.

Over 30% of our children are dual language learners (21). This year, we have families speaking at least 15 languages besides English: Arabic, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Japanese, Korean, Kyrgyz, Nepali, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Urdu.

In addition to nurturing their children, the adult family members in our school have a wide variety of professional and volunteer roles in the community, including in the arts, coaching, communication, construction, education, engineering, finance, government, health care, housing, hospitality, law, manufacturing, marketing, media, retail, social services, student, technology, trades, transportation, etc.

Our families live in and around Pittsburgh, including, Bradford Woods, Bridgeville, Cranberry, Dormont, Downtown, Fox Chapel, Gibsonia, Greentree, Homestead, Mount Lebanon, Munhall, Oakland, Oakmont, Penn Hills, Perry North, Point Breeze, Regent Square, Robinson, Sewickley, Shadyside, Sharpsburg, Squirrel Hill, and Wilkinsburg.

As one way of helping families get to know each other across classes, we will introduce one or more each month in our Family Spotlight feature.  Please contact Mrs. Yetter if you would like to be a featured family. You can see prior family profiles on the school web site under “For Families”.  The Andrianos, Borrebach, Cho, Forbes, Lama, McCray, Rizzo, Russo, Sakr, and Zlot families have introduced themselves in the last few years.


November 2023: The Three Year Old Globe Trotter


Esa is bemused these days, partly because he started the enchanting 3’s preschool and also because he has not boarded an airplane since, well, two months; a lifetime for the little expert jet setter. I ask myself, was his love for trucks through books or exposure from travel? In the past two years, Esa has visited four continents: Pakistan, Germany, Greece, Cuba, Spain, Morocco and Colombia, not to mention frequent road trips in the east coast. These days, he has his wheeled bag (meant to be a school bag) ready for the airport; restless to explore the world.

Our interest in the outdoors and ecosystems is surely getting passed down. We love to celebrate diversity in all its forms, and explore new places, cuisines and cultures. We also love hosting. On a routine basis, our favorite hangout spot with Esa is playgrounds. Seems like we have an aspiring rock climber on our hands. His at-home sustained engagement activities are: sandplay with construction trucks, imaginative play with emergency vehicles, tunnel games, and football. With dad, Esa loves to indulge in voracious reading, gardening and cycling. Esa has also started attending Friday prayer at the mosque, wearing Pakistani clothes (see photo on the right). It’s cute!

Esa’s classroom is such a bright and happy place, made special by the caring educators. The big well-equipped playground makes me smile. As a CMU alumna, I feel ecstatic seeing him walk onto the same campus. The most exciting thing was that Esa started to speak in sentences right after his first (half) day at school! In his bilingual style, of course. I am enjoying these intimate chats during our short scenic drive to school, and I am looking forward to building a close community there.

Meanwhile, as mom, while we settle into the school routine, I am edging my way back into what drives me: volunteering for refugee empowerment and a career at National Geographic or the likes. Dad is back on the Schenley track, running, while also continuing at UPMC, his place of training and employment since 2007 - a dinosaur employee.

December 2023: Party of Five


Hello, Children’s School family! We are the McLaughlin family – Brian (dad), Annie (mom), Colin (age 7), Zoey (age 5), and Owen (age 3, currently in the Green Room, younger 4’s). Our older kids went through the Children’s School previously (Colin in Kindergarten 2021-22 and Zoey in the Green Room 2022-23), so we’ve been thrilled to be part of the Children’s School family since 2021. We were so fortunate to join when we were looking for a school for Colin before he started elementary school; and because of our amazing experience, we wanted all of our kids to be a part of the Children’s School too! Colin and Zoey now attend the Falk School.

Brian and Annie met in medical school at Stony Brook University, and then came to Pittsburgh in 2006 when they matched at UPMC for their Internal Medicine residency. Brian is originally from upstate New York, and Annie grew up in New Jersey and then Massachusetts. Having no roots here, we hadn’t planned to stay long term, but Pittsburgh very quickly became home, and we can’t imagine living anywhere else to raise our family. Brian works as an oncologist at Passavant Hospital, and Annie works as an oncologist at the Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside. Our 17 years in Pittsburgh have been spent living in Squirrel Hill and then Shadyside.

Colin, Zoey, and Owen are 18 months and 22 months apart, respectively, so it always feels like a party of 5 in the McLaughlin house! Our dog Jackson (age 10) does a good job keeping us in line. Some of our favorite things to do include: spending time outdoors, like camping and hiking; playing board games; traveling, especially to Cape Cod every summer or national parks; having living room dance parties; and decorating our house for every holiday. Some other favorites include spending time with friends, talking about animals, and making art galleries.

Since Brian and Annie have planted their roots here, we’ve been fortunate to have family join us in Pittsburgh: Brian’s sister Diana, her husband Nadir, and kids Leena (age 4, who is in the Green Room with Owen!) and Illyas (7 months), and Annie’s father Young. Colin, Zoey, and Owen love spending time with their extended family in Pittsburgh, playing with Leena, and learning Korean words from their grandfather.

The Children’s School has been such an important part of our kids’ development on many levels, and we look forward to spending our last 2 years here with Owen! Thank you to the incredible teachers, staff, and the other families we have come to know over the years!


January 2024: A Playful Family


Hello Children’s School Families! We are the Frey Family; Ada, Dilara and Regis! Ada is in the Red Room with Mrs Belau and Mrs Loomis.

Ada (Ah-duh) means “island” in Turkish. Ada’s mother, Dilara, is from Istanbul, Turkiye. She met Regis in CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center masters program. After graduation, both moved to the Bay Area to work in the games industry and lived there for 8 years.

In 2019, we had our wedding palooza in San Francisco, Istanbul and Pittsburgh (great luck on timing for international travel before the world shut down).

Like the rest of the children at school, Ada was born in the middle of the pandemic, in August 2020 in California, while we were thousands of miles away from our families and learning to be first time parents. Thanks to technology, Ada met family and friends through video calls. Ada was 7 months old before he first met his grandparents in person. Seeing Ada with his extended family helped us make the decision to move back to Pittsburgh to be closer to that connection and support.

Ada’s “Nan”, Regis’ mother, Regina was a speech therapist who worked with the Children’s School and we’ve been so lucky to have her watch Ada, play, and talk with him.

Ada is very passionate about music, books, art, and swings. He sings many “indie folk” songs, and hearing Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence sung by a 3 year old is very amusing.

Ours is a playful family. We’ve loved doing pretend play with Ada and making up games like “Two Hand Color”, in which Ada has to run and touch two things matching the two given colors.

We are so happy that Ada is in an environment where he gets to play with and learn from friends and teachers at the Children’s School. We are very excited to see the impact from just a couple of months and look forward to the rest of the journey.


February 2024: First Schools for Three Children

A collage of the Zeglin family

Hello Children’s School Families! We are the Zeglin family: Garth, Amanda, Tristan, Rowan, and Violet. We have had one child at a time in the Children’s School since 2016. It’s bittersweet to know that we are in our last year!

Garth came to Pittsburgh in 1993 for graduate school in Robotics at Carnegie Mellon and never left. He is now an instructor at CMU in an interdisciplinary design, art, and technology program. For several years, he has brought undergraduates into the Children’s School in the Fall to learn how to design interactive projects for children. This fall, the project took the form of mechanical marble runs. The Children’s School educators have been enormously helpful in both providing design advice and ensuring a smooth experience.

Amanda grew up in Pittsburgh and has lived here her whole life except for going away for school. Amanda and Garth met while dancing Lindy Hop in Pittsburgh in 2004, so after Amanda finished veterinary school in Kansas in 2009, it was clear she was coming back to her home city to settle. Now she divides her time between working part time as a small animal veterinarian and taking care of three children and a cat at home. Swing dance has taken a back seat, but Amanda carries on her love of all things vintage by styling her clothes and hair, even when she’s doing regular mom stuff.

Tristan was first to attend the Children’s school in 2016. Shortly before Tristan started his year in the Blue Room, we brought home baby brother Rowan, so our new routine became sending Tristan off to school with Garth on the PAT bus to explore campus and walk into school together. One day, a last minute school cancellation left him going to class with Garth, where he introduced himself to the students as a co-instructor. We enjoyed watching Tristan, the extroverted child of two introverts, grow at the Children’s School, as well as anchoring us into a new community there. In kindergarten, Tristan was excited to add a new baby sister to his family graph.

Rowan joined the preschool 3’s in 2019 and got a great start there before the big upset in 2020. We skipped the 2020-2021 year to homeschool both boys. Amanda found herself making a preschool 4’s curriculum that benefited tremendously from observing what the boys learned at the Children’s School for the past 4 years, not to mention all of the resources that the educators sent us when things shut down. When 2021 came around, we were glad they had allowed us to save our spot because we knew they would provide Rowan with a safe, fun, and stable kindergarten experience. Rowan also enjoyed some Papa time on campus, especially the spinning benches and looking in the window into the “secret underground lab” (aka the nanotechnology laboratory).

By the time it was Violet’s turn in 2022, she had already been practicing writing with a pencil and trying to do everything her brothers did in homeschool, so she was very excited to get on the bus with her Papa and have her own adventures. She enjoys entering things into her personal spreadsheet in Papa’s office and finding the robotics kitchen with the hot chocolate dispenser. Violet loves drawing, cutting, and crafting things. At school, she especially likes playing games with the college helpers and working in the Make Shop. At home, she also loves riding her scooter and playing video games with her brothers. This past weekend, she celebrated her 5th birthday with all of her Children’s School friends! Come next school year, she will be ready to start a new chapter by following her brothers to Colfax Elementary for kindergarten. We will miss the Children’s School but are grateful for our time here with each of our children.

The Zeglin fanily camping in their backyard

March 2024: The Burkes’ City Adventures

Burke family

Hello Children’s School families! We are the Burkes – Mike, Adrienne, & Rowan! We live in Highland Park in one of the oldest houses on our block, a little Second Empire Victorian, built circa 1896. When we purchased it, the house had been “altered beyond recognition” according to an old historic survey—an epic understatement—and we have been (very) slowly restoring it ever since. Fortunately, Adrienne is an Interior Designer, Mike is a Historian, and we are handy, so that works in our favor! We love our neighborhood and are lucky to have some wonderful neighbors and friends, awesome playgrounds, and city adventures nearby.

Our family roots in southwestern PA go deep. Mom and Dad met way back in grade school (Mike is a year older), lost touch after high school, and went our separate ways, to Chicago and Boston, respectively. To make a long story short, we reconnected over the holidays many years later and decided to start a new chapter together in Pittsburgh. After a long time hoping for a little sidekick to join us on our adventures, we welcomed Rowan to the family in November 2020!

As a family, we love taking long road trips, spending time outdoors, listening to music, drawing and painting together, and impromptu dance parties. Other favorites include cooking and baking, gardening, arts and crafts, and, most recently, sled riding! Adrienne and Rowan are also into yoga, and Mike has an antique furniture problem he is trying to work through.

Rowan is thoroughly enjoying her first year at the Children's School as a Red Room friend! We visited the school a few weeks before she turned two, in November 2022. She immediately felt at home and jumped right in, exploring the Discovery Area, and joining the kindergarten class in the mud kitchen! She loves all the building, music, and fun times with her teachers and friends, and we love that she is encouraged with such a great balance of free choice play and structured activities. We’re always in awe at how much Mrs. Belau and Mrs. Loomis can pack into a single day!

It has been amazing to watch Rowan grow and change from summer to winter and we can’t wait to see all the fun things in store as the seasons continue to change. We’re so grateful to have found the Children’s School and all the wonderful people who make it such a special place. It’s the perfect environment for our little city kid to feed her curious mind!

Burke family

April 2024: World Travelers Setting Roots in Pittsburgh

the Spradling family

Hi, Children's School Family! We are the Spradlings - Kyle (dad), Michelle (mom), Dane (7), Everett (4), and Vera (1)! We are recent transplants to Pittsburgh and moved here to the Squirrel Hill neighborhood last August. Before that, we lived in Baltimore for one year; and before that, we lived in Northern California for 6 years. We have moved around a lot, but now we feel like we are setting down roots here in Pittsburgh. We love living here!

Our family enjoys going on hikes, swimming, grandparent visits, and traveling. Dane, Everett, and Vera are excellent world travelers! Whether it be flying to Thailand to visit Michelle's family, biking the streets of Amsterdam to visit Kyle's family, or taking trains and boats across Norway to sightsee some fjords, our kids have had some adventurous journeys and made some wonderful memories along the way. In fact, 4-year-old Everett has already swum in 4 of the world's oceans (although he did find the Pacific and Arctic Oceans much too cold for his liking)!

When we aren't traveling, the Spradling family enjoys exploring our new home of Pittsburgh! We particularly enjoy the Squirrel Hill library, Children’s Museum, farmers markets, and learning about the great Pittsburgh sports teams. Older brother Dane, who is a 1st grader at Falk, is an all-sports enthusiast and enjoys staying up to date on scores, records, and sports news. More recently, he has become a basketball player, flag-football teammate, and dabbles in some backyard soccer matches as well. Dane's true passion, however, is reading, and he can be found at all hours of the day enjoying a good book.  His appetite for reading has become so voracious that trips to the library for a new book are now a daily event.

Everett's interests include biking, play dates, playgrounds, play dates at playgrounds, and helping with house repairs and cooking. He also has recently developed a strong interest in music, in large part because of his exposure to music at Children's School! Everett has been very motivated to learn how to play guitar and is taking lessons now! Impromptu jam sessions with brother Dane (on piano) are now frequent occurrences at the Spradling home, which baby sister Vera enjoys to a great degree. Vera's favorite activities include crawling, putting objects in and out of containers, and clapping and laughing when her brothers do something funny.

We are so fortunate and happy to have found the Children's School! From our first moments during the school tour, we could tell that this is a special place where children can explore, grow, practice their independence and creativity, and develop wonderful relationships with the teachers and other friends! Everett is absolutely loving his year as a Green Room friend, and we've witnessed tremendous growth in his confidence, communication and curiosity since joining the Children's School. Every day after school, we love hearing him describe his adventures, and his excitement is palpable and contagious! We are so grateful to be in the Children's School Family and to share in this adventure with all of you!

Spradling family at a Pirates game