New Pine-Richland School Board member named
The first time Dr. Matthew Mehalik received an email from Pine-Richland School District seeking applicants for the school board director vacancy in Region 3, he thought it was interesting but wasn't moved to submit his name.
When the second email landed in his inbox, however, something changed.
“I've always cared about education and have been very fortunate in terms of my experience through education, and it triggered in me the sense that maybe it's time for me to give back,” he said. “That's what motivated me to apply.”
The school board named Mehalik its newest director after an extremely close vote during a Jan. 8 special session. He fills the vacancy left after Robert Pavlecic passed away shortly after being elected to the post in November and will serve a two-year term.
“We were fortunate this evening to have two highly qualified members of our communty as candidates,” school board President Peter Lyons said. “Both Mr. (Robert) Wiskemann and Dr. Mehalik demonstrated the experience and temperment to serve on our board with distinction, as reflected in the close vote of the board. I would have liked to see the discussion go on for hours, given the high quality of the conversation and the engagement from the board and candidates. Dr. Mehalik expressed a commitment to run for re-election in two years if he were appointed. Given that there will be three seats up for re-election in Region 3 in 2019, this ultimately proved to be enough of a distinction between two ideal candidates to break the four-four tie in favor of Dr. Mehalik.”
Mehalik is the executive director of the Breathe Project/Collaborative, which promotes clean air and healthy communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College teaching Environmental Policy & Planning and Sustainable Community Development.
He was a program director at Sustainable Pittsburgh and holds degrees including a PhD in systems engineering with concentrations in business management, ethics and social studies of innovation and technology, a master of science in systems engineering and a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia. Mehalik has also done postdoctoral work in learning science in education at Pitt.
He hopes to use his background to contribute to the ongoing engagement of students and teachers in the district and to encourage programs and opportunities that drive curiosity.
“I am honored to be able to serve as a school board member at Pine-Richland,” said Mehalik, who lives in Richland with his wife and one child. “I want to affirm my dedication to supporting the work of the board and for the mission of Pine-Richland School District, to focus on learning for every student, every day. I also wish to send my pledge to dedicating my service in honor of Mr. Pavlecic, whose position I aspire to complete, and to his family.”
Karen Price for the Tribune-Review