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New McKeesport Area superintendent shares her story at Lunch & Learn

Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport Area School District's newly appointed Superintendent Rula Skezas meets with high school students for a Lunch & Learn session in the library on Thursday.

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Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, 4:26 a.m.
 

McKeesport Area School District's newly appointed superintendent Rula Skezas shared some of her life story with high school students on Thursday morning.

It was the second installment of Lunch & Learn, organized by high school librarian Barbara Holtz to help students get to know the administrators.

School directors approved Skezas' promotion from assistant superintendent at Wednesday night's board meeting. She will succeed Timothy Gabauer, who is leaving the district to become superintendent at Mt. Pleasant Area on Nov. 1.

Gabauer was Lunch & Learn's first guest speaker two weeks ago.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors had hot dogs and beverages while Skezas told them of her journey from her Greek childhood and learning English as a second language, to becoming superintendent.

“My mother was born in Greece. My father was born in the United States,” she said. “Up to when I was 5 years old, I didn't speak a whole lot of English. When I went to kindergarten, I learned to speak English through the people in my classroom and in my neighborhood. Them helping me to learn always made me feel like I needed to teach people and to help them learn.”

Skezas told the students that she, her son Nicholas and her daughter Eleni still speak to each other in Greek.

“Our kids love stories,” Holtz said. “They don't know how things happen. They don't know how Dr. Gabauer and Dr. Skezas now make decisions that affect them, or what they do. That's what we're here to learn.”

Skezas said she was White Oak Elementary principal when some of the current seniors were in kindergarten.

“It makes me so proud of their accomplishments, whether at a band festival, or at a football game, or seeing some of the awards that they received,” Skezas said. “It's great. It makes me very proud.”

Skezas said she gradutated from McKeesport Area High School in 1982 and studied at what then was Penn State McKeesport, then earned her degrees from Duquesne University.

Her first teaching job was as a fourth-grade teacher in Frederick, Md. She taught in the South Park School District before beginning her career in McKeesport Area.

Skezas said she had planned to remain a McKeesport Area teacher, but some of her mentors convinced her to become a principal.

She served as Twin Rivers Intermediate principal when sophomores Keyla Kennedy and Francesca Moux attended there.

“It comes full circle,” Skezas said.

Keyla, who plans to become a teacher, said Thursday's lunch period was better than usual.

“You can learn how the people higher than you think,” Keyla said. “I think I can learn from her.”

“It's not easy getting to where you want to be,” Francesca said. “You have to work for it, and it doesn't always go the way you think it would. (Lunch & Learn) is more sincere. It's enclosed more and you get to learn more.”

“I think that the kids need to see that we're real,” Skezas said. “They need to know about us. They know our positions but they perhaps don't know anything about us.”

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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