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New Baldwin High School vice principal comes full circle

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
John Saras

John M. Saras has come full circle.

A 1993 graduate of Baldwin High School, Saras, 37, began his position as vice principal at Baldwin on Monday at a salary of $75,000 a year.

The school board appointed Saras at the June 19 meeting with an 8-1 vote. Tracy Macek dissented.

The decision about Saras was made after the school board eliminated the dean-of-students positions at Baldwin and J. E. Harrison Middle School held by Pete Wagner Jr. and Mike Voelker, respectively. Both will remain as teachers and football coaches in the district.

“You have to do what you believe is in the best interest of the kids, not just for the short term, but for the long term,” Superintendent Randal Lutz said after the meeting. “If there was a time to look at this restructuring, there was no better time than now.”

As vice principal, Saras will have the ability to evaluate and assess teacher performances, which will assist the district in the new teacher-evaluation model implemented by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the 2013-14 school year. The Educator Effectiveness Model now will consider student success as 50 percent of the evaluation and also involve classroom observations.

Saras also will serve as an instructional leader and work with teachers to ensure curriculum is sound and aligned to the Keystone Exams and Common Core standards. He also will work with the guidance counselors to ensure students are scheduled in the proper courses, implement school-safety measures and engage with with parents and students to help carry out the superintendent's goals, Assistant Superintendent Denise Sedlacek said.

He joined vice principals Janeen Peretin and Jonathan Peebles.

“Saras brings the classroom experience and expressed his desire to step up,” school board member Kevin Fischer said. “He's well-respected in the classroom and in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District.”

Saras spent 13 years teaching geometry, algebra and precalculus at Harrison after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a master's degree in math education. He had taken a chance.

Saras chose a permanent substitute position at Harrison, where he faced constant evaluations and the possibility to later be without a job, over a permanent position in the Norwin School District. His substitute position became permanent within the year.

“Two years ago, I started my principal certification through Cal U, and it was just that time to make that transition in my career,” Saras said. “I'm excited to be making that transition, especially here.”

The class of '93 celebrated its 20th reunion two weeks ago, and his classmates discussed his ability to come full circle and serve the district as an administrator, Saras said.

“(I want) to continue the tradition of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District — the high expectations that come with academics in and outside of the classroom,” Saras said. “It's going to be tough to uphold those expectations.”

Brittany Goncar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or bgoncar@tribweb.com.

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