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A.W. Beattie Career Center honors Shaler Area board member

| Monday, Dec. 25, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Sean Aiken and Jim Fisher with award plaque
Sean Aiken and Jim Fisher with award plaque

A.W. Beattie Career Center has presented Shaler Area School Board member Jim Fisher with its Award of Distinction for his service on the center's joint operating committee.

Representing voting Region III, Fisher, 67, has served on the board 22 years.

Students from nine local schools attend Beattie. Two representatives from each school board form the center's joint operating committee.

According to Eric Heasley, Beattie executive director, Fisher has served more than 20 years on the committee, including previous presidential terms.

“He is focused on issues related to student success. He is an active participant when it comes to student recognitions events. He believes in making decisions that are in the best interest of all students attending A.W. Beattie,” said Heasley.

Fisher, of Shaler, said the center has recently made great advances.

“Whether it's culinary, whether it's carpentry, child care, nursing — whatever the field or endeavor — we tried to make sure that those different career paths prepared the children to be adults and to be a member of the community and to be the best chef they could be or whatever they dreamed they could be. … and all those different programs are all well certified. The kids come out ready to go right into the workforce as soon as they graduate.”

He and the other Beattie members fulfill the center's mission, “make sure the programs are adequate, the funding is there and it's managed properly,” according to Fisher.

He joined the board “to make a difference and bring some business savvy to the school district.” He said he has continued to serve because he believes in “judicious” spending, maintaining the board's “semblance of professionalism” and ensuring that students receive excellent educations.

Fisher filled the unexpired term of another member from July to December 2013.

With his master's in chemical engineering and a bachelor's in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh, Fisher will continue to handle waste water and education issues as a constituent specialist for state Sen. Randy Vulakovich until his retirement at year's end. Previously, he also retired from Moon Township-based Calgon Carbon Corp. and from Voorhees, N.J.-based American Water Works Service Company Inc.

Fisher heads the board's building and grounds and finance committees.

He is married to Susan, a Shaler Township commissioner and retired Shaler Area activities director and family and consumer sciences teacher. They have two children who graduated from Shaler Area and two grandchildren, one of whom attends Burchfield Primary School.

“I always tried to keep my career separate from my wife's career, even though it was difficult. Anything that came up that dealt with my family I would abstain from,” he said, noting that he would not negotiate teacher contracts while his wife worked as a Shaler Area teacher.

In addition to serving on the school board, Fisher is a Hampton Shaler Water Authority, Tri-COG land bank and Travelers Aid Society board member.

“My job is not to pat myself on the back. This job, I look at as doing your civic duty. Paying your civic rent, so to speak. By volunteering your time to serve on a board is where I get the most joy. It's not to be put on a pedestal.”

“I've been honored to serve, and that's something I'll be able to take with me the rest of my life because it's been very rewarding to me. I try to make a difference and hopefully I am succeeding.”

Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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