Post was 'labor of love' for retiring Quaker Valley superintendent
By Bobby Cherry
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Quaker Valley Superintendent Joseph Clapper's days with the district are numbered.
Clapper, 57, of Leet announced last week he would retire from Quaker Valley — a district and community he said he has enjoyed being part of.
“I have really appreciated working in this district and living in this district for 20 years,” Clapper said. “It's really been a labor of love.”
Clapper will leave Quaker Valley on or around Sept. 1.
Board members have not yet announced how they will move forward with plans to replace Clapper.
He has had two stints at Quaker Valley, joining in 1993 as Edgeworth Elementary principal before being promoted to assistant superintendent in 2000.
He left the district in 2005 when North Hills School District leaders tapped him for the superintendent position.
After 18 months there, Clapper returned to Quaker Valley replacing then-superintendent Jerry Longo.
Clapper called Quaker Valley a community that “understands the value of public school education.”
“Communities that invest in youth prosper,” he said.
“It's true. (I'll) show you a good community and I'll show you a good public school. You show me a good public school (and) I'll show you a good community. That's the way it works.
“This is a great place to live and work and play and, yes, go to school.”
Under Clapper's leadership, the district has been ranked in numerous regional, state and national education-related lists. Among them is America's Most Challenging High Schools by the Washington Post.
“The end product is our kids, and what they're doing as they depart the Quaker Valley School District is incredible,” he said.
“It gets lost sometimes with people. It's about the kids. It's about their education and their well-being. That's what it's about. If we focus on that and do it at a high level, wonderful things are going to happen — not just for the kids, but for everything that surrounds them.”
He oversaw a $26.5-million renovation project at Quaker Valley Middle School, which includedrelocating three grade levels into two buildings during the work.
The construction project added an auditorium, wellness center and integrated arts wing, including music, art, technology and family and consumer sciences.
“The renovation of the middle school posed many challenges — including the temporary relocation of students and staff,” Clapper said.
“However, the educational benefits have made it all worth it. Quaker Valley Middle School is a simply phenomenal facility for teaching and learning.”
His tenure has not been without controversy.
District leaders in 2007 began outsourcing bus service to Richland Township-based Monark Student Transportation, causing concern among many parents at the time.
Clapper has said the move saved the district millions of dollars — during a time when he and other administrators have cut costs, including positions, to save money.
In 2012, school board members purchased two homes near the high school in Leetsdale and announced plans to consider adding a parking lot and student drop-off area.
The purchases angered neighbors. Clapper said plans for developing any potential use for the properties would be part of a broader focus when leaders considered renovating the high school.
Until he steps away from Quaker Valley, Clapper said it's business as usual.
“I'm going to work for another seven months,” he said. “I've really enjoyed being a part of this, and, still say there's a lot of work to do for seven months.”
Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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