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

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.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Lillian DeDomenic | For the Plum Advance Leader</em></div>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.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader</em></div>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.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader</em></div>Theresa Szmed, the new principal at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Plum, is excited to get the new school year under way.

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New principal

Name: Theresa Szmed

Age: 50

Hometown: Penn Hills

Residence: Delmont

Education and Certifications:

• Bachelor's degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh in 1985

• Continuing graduate education credits from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, Gettysburg University and Cheyney University in Cheyney from 2001 to 2011

• Level I and II elementary education certifications in 1985 and 2011, respectively

• Middle school science certification in 2011

• Currently working toward a master's in educational administration from the University of Scranton

Work experience:

• Seventh- and eighth-grade language arts, math and social studies teacher at St. Joseph Elementary School in Verona from 1986 to 1987

• General manager of food at concessions at the Pittsburgh Zoo from 1987 to 1989

• Seventh- and eighth-grade science, reading, math and social studies teacher at St. Raphael Elementary School in Morningside from 1989 to 1997

• Middle-school science coordinator at St. John the Baptist Elementary School in Plum from 1997 to June 2013

• Named principal of St. John the Baptist Elementary School in June 2013

Family: Husband, John Szmed; children, Elizabeth, 26; John, 19

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

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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