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Learning never stops for Fallowfield Towship art educator Mohney

Suzan Mohney, 70, of Fallowfield Township, recently received her doctorate from Walden University.

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By Miranda Startare
Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

“Doors opened for me. One door closed; another opened.”

This is how Fallowfield Towship's Suzan Mohney describes her nearly five decades-long career in art education – a career which was recently enhanced by obtaining a doctorate degree from Walden University.

Graduating with a class of 1,100 at the National Harbor in Washington, D.C. on July 12, Mohney, 70, reflected on her lifelong love of art and teaching that began at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, bringing her to this high achievement.

Mohney's teaching began at Belle Vernon Middle School, landing her first job before graduation. During the several years she worked at Belle Vernon, Mohney obtained her master's degree before starting a family with her high school sweetheart and husband, Jay.

Back then when you were expecting, you had to leave your job when you began “showing,” Mohney explained, so Mohney became a stay-at-home mother for several years to her two sons, Jay and Jeff.

Opportunity knocked again when a position opened at Charleroi. Mohney was hired and worked at Charleroi as an art teacher for about 30 years.

During her years at Charleroi Area, Mohney met Joy Gazi, the art teacher from Bentworth Elementary School. The two educators shared an enthusiasm for teaching and a philosophy of teaching art chronologically and in context with other subjects, quickly becoming friends and close colleagues.

Together, the educators wrote a program, “Making Friends with Art History,” which is held in different locations yearly.

Mohney has since moved on in her teaching career to Carlow University, then to California University of Pennsylvania, where she still teaches. Her working relationship and friendship with Gazi has endured, though. Gazi works with Mohney's student teachers from the university, and they still “talk art,” according to Mohney.

Mohney has taught so many students over the years, she laughs that she could “fill up a stadium.”

“I remember all of them,” she says.

After her son posted Mohney's doctorate degree achievement on Facebook, he was flooded with responses and well wishes from students Mohney taught throughout the years.

“Some of my college kids were ones I taught in elementary,” she says.

With no intentions of slowing down, Mohney loves her busy life with her students and with her “wonderful, supportive husband.”

Sons Jay and Jeff, who reside out of state, enjoy careers in technology and filmmaking.

An avid hockey fan, Mohney says she has been going to Pittsburgh Penguins games for 30 years in her free time. Mohney loves painting and working with fabrics, as well, but has little spare time to pursue either with such a busy schedule. As an art professor once told her, “My art is coming up with ideas for the students.”

Mohney hopes to continue her career and has no immediate plans for retirement.

“I love what I do. I have so much experience that I want to share with another generation.”

Miranda Startare is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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