PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The first day back for students at Pittsburgh Public Schools is exciting for students, parents and teachers.

This year, several Pittsburgh schools will participate in a program to manage student behavior and make students feel like they’re a part of their community.

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For Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane, the first day back means out of the office and into the classroom.

“I’m just happy to be here to get a chance to welcome them. I know that families appreciate it, not just me, but all the community members who are out here today,” said Lane as she stood in front of Westinghouse School.

Lane joined others to welcome students back to school. at Westinghouse. Students were greeted by mentors, who want to make a difference this school year

“We just believe in the power of influence and great things happen when the collective comes together to support our people, support our communities,” said Jason Rivers, a mentor and school district employee.

At Woolslair Elementary School, the youngest of students were eager to begin their day.

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For some, it’s the very first day.

“I’m a little nervous,” said parent Bianca James, the mother of a toddler going to pre-K. “But, she’s excited. She never really went to daycare or anything, so this is all new to us.”

Teachers at Woolslair and 21 other Pittsburgh schools will have a new strategy to introduce to their students this year – restorative practices. The goal is to improve student behavior and reduce punishment, like suspensions.

“Before we get to the problem, we want to do some things ahead of time that can prevent it from happening in the first place and we all know that’s about building strong relationships with kids,” Dr. Lane said.

Pittsburgh received a $3 million grant for the restorative practices program. Teachers received specialized training over the summer, which will continue for the next two years.

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