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New leadership takes helm in Gateway School District

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 10:18 p.m.

New leaders of the Gateway School District say the future is now.

Superintendent Nina Zetty presented her first board report at a Dec. 5 meeting when the new school board president outlined a plan to revise curriculum in the district.

“Over the next several weeks, (we) will be initiating a process, designed to generate a three-year plan, aimed at taking Gateway School District in to the 22nd century,” said Steve O'Donnell, who was selected as school board president earlier in the meeting.

O'Donnell said he and Zetty are developing a three-year plan to improve certain aspects of the educational process, including the use of advancing technology in classrooms.

It's a goal that Zetty has achieved before.

Under Zetty's leadership, Peters Township School District revamped the curriculum of at least six subjects over the past year, with a focus on incorporating more technology into the classroom, said Peters Township school director Bill Merrell.

O'Donnell also said the administration and school board should address the fact that some student subgroups have scored lower than their peers on assessment tests.

The high school failed to meet state testing standards the past two years.

Zetty said the academic disparity is one of the reasons why she chose to leave Peters Township — which was ranked as the 11th best district in the state for academics this year, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times — for Gateway.

After a tumultuous 2012 budget season in which parents clashed with Gateway decision-makers on a number of issues, Zetty and O'Donnell say they want to hear new ideas from parents, students, district employees and business professionals who live in Monroeville and Pitcairn.

Speaking on behalf of the grassroots group Concerned Citizens of Monroeville and Pitcairn, parent Tammy Richardson said she looks forward to the dialogue.

“We're excited to share ideas that not only we, as parents, have but that our children have,” Richardson said.

“We hope to provide an excellent resource for you, in reaching out to the community.”

Also included with O'Donnell's list of goals was the placement of a new elementary school in Pitcairn, after the Gateway school board voted to close Pitcairn Elementary in 2011.

Also taking on a new role last week was school director Jim Capell, who was appointed school board vice president.

Since being elected about one year ago as one of three new school board members, Capell hasn't said much at public meetings.

“It will change the way I do things,” Capell said. “I have more of a leadership role now.”

Last week's school board meeting didn't just focus on areas for improvement.

Zetty used her first administrative meeting to recognize the recent achievements of students and staff with a presentation.

“I've been here three days now … what I have discovered in those three days is this staff and our students are pretty amazing.”

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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