Music teacher returns to hometown as 1st principal of Baden Academy
After nearly 20 years as a music teacher and administrator with the Pittsburgh Public Schools, Angie Abadilla looks forward to returning to Beaver County as the first principal at Baden Academy Charter School in the fall.
Abadilla, 44, grew up in Baden. Early in her career, she taught at Mt. Gallitzin Academy, and Baden Academy now is in the same building.
“I feel like I'm coming home,” said Abadilla, who lives in Allison Park. “I dreamt of a job like this.”
Started in 2012, the arts-based Baden Academy has grown steadily. This year, 464 students are expected in grades K-5, spokeswoman Christina Zarek said. Plans call for a grade to be added each year until K-8 is reached.
The academy's board of directors appointed Abadilla this month. Until then, consultants were hired to head the school, board president Sal Aloe said.
Abadilla's annual salary will be about $100,000, Aloe said. The 1987 graduate of Ambridge Area High School has a bachelor's degree in music education from West Virginia University and a master's in school administration from California University of Pennsylvania.
She joined Pittsburgh Public in fall 1994 as an instrumental music instructor at Schenley High School. She taught at some elementary schools before moving into the district's administration in recent years.
Since 2012, she has overseen K-12 curriculum in schools citywide as senior program officer for arts education.
“Angie loves to take on challenges,” said Aloe, a former Ambridge music teacher who has known Abadilla since grade school. “She thinks outside of the box and has great ideas. She also has good communications skills and is good with parents and staff.”
Abadilla, who studied drumming and dance in Ghana, is eager to expose students to other cultures. She said moving from a large school system to a small school will be tough.
“I'm going from working with (about) 60 schools to one,” she said.
She relishes the opportunity for a more hands-on role, however.
“I'll be surrounded by the (same) students,” she said. “It will be fun to watch them learn.”
Sarah Tambucci, director of the Pittsburgh-based Arts Education Collaborative, considers Abadilla, who sits on the group's advisory board, a role model.
“She's a wonderful person and an excellent teacher,” Tambucci said. “Her new job combines everything she loves.”
Jane Wall, a retired Pittsburgh Public Schools music teacher, worked with Abadilla on curriculum and assessment, and said she is good at developing community partnerships.
When city school buildings weren't available for a summer instrumental music program, Abadilla went into communities to find space.
Abadilla held monthly advisory meetings with parents and community partners on arts education. “Angela was a huge supporter of teachers and students,” said Wall, noting she attended concerts and visited classrooms.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.