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St. John the Baptist principal ready to take on new role

| Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Plum Advance Leader
Theresa Szmed, the new principal at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Plum, is excited to get the new school year under way.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
Theresa Szmed, the new principal at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Plum, is ready for the first new school year.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
Theresa Szmed, the new principal at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Plum, is excited to get the new school year under way.

The Rev. Tom Galvin, pastor of St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Parish in Plum, was on a retreat at the University of Steubenville when he got the news.

Galvin received an email from John Booher, principal at St. John the Baptist Catholic School, indicating Booher was resigning.

Booher had been principal for a year. The search a year ago gleaned 27 candidates. Galvin said one of those candidates immediately came to mind — Theresa Szmed.

Szmed, a middle-school science teacher at St. John, accepted the position in late June.

“There is no question about Mrs. Szmed's ability to be able to take on the job,” Galvin said.

The pastor said a year ago the school was in need of a principal with a solid financial background to help maintain enrollment in an area where the demographics are changing.

Galvin said Szmed, with a strong Catholic and educational background, will bring a “real family atmosphere” to the school.

In Galvin's letter to parents introducing the new principal, Galvin wrote, “(Mrs. Szmed) has a great love for the students, their faith and education (and) an equal love for St. John the Baptist School.”

Anne Jacobus, a teacher at St. John for more than 30 years, described Szmed as “effervescent.”

“Theresa is a great motivator and respectful of others' opinions,” Jacobus said.

Szmed's association with St. John dates back to college when she observed former St. John teacher Karen Bruno in her classroom.

“Karen was my mentor,” Szmed said.

Szmed returned to St. John in 1997 to teach middle-school science.

Though she was a candidate for the job last year, Szmed said she was “astounded” when Galvin in June offered her the position.

Szmed said she enthusiastically accepted.

Szmed said her primary goal is to increase enrollment, which is at 215 students in preschool through eighth grade.

She also plans to continue professional development for the teaching staff that she said goes “above and beyond” in their duties.

Szmed also plans some new programs and aims to continue to challenge students, many of whom score two to three grade levels above their academic grade on standardized tests.

Szmed also will continue to teach science part time and is working toward earning a master's degree in educational administration.

“I am excited,” Szmed said.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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