A changing of the guard is taking place in Plum School District.
Resident and Assistant Superintendent Gail Yamnitzky is retiring Oct. 1 after serving more than 25 years as an educator, with 15 of those in the borough.
Her positions included principal at Pivik Elementary, K-6 director of curriculum, assistant superintendent for grades 9-12 and acting superintendent.
She served as a principal in the Franklin Regional School District before coming to Plum.
“It has been a joy and honor to serve the children and families of the district,” she said. “I have had the distinct pleasure to work alongside some of the finest educators who are creative, caring and very committed to our children. I will miss them all.”
Yamnitzky worked as acting superintendent for seven months and was instrumental in the transition of various administrators.
The latest change will be her replacement, Denise Sedlacek, 56, of Mt. Lebanon. She will also serve as human resources director.
The school board unanimously approved her hiring in August. Her first official day was Sept. 20.
“I’m really excited and thrilled,” Sedlacek said. “What a great opportunity.”
The board approved a five-year contract with Sedlacek. It runs through September 2024.
Her starting salary is $133,250.
School Director Steve Schlauch said Sedlacek’s background and presentation to the board were very impressive.
”I believe Sedlacek will bring to Plum outstanding educational leadership and organizational development skills,” he said. “She will greatly improve student achievement and help bring out only the very best educationally from our students.”
Superintendent Brendan Hyland called Sedlacek a “game-changer.” He believes she will “continue to carry on the mission of creating an environment that exceptionally prepares all students and staff for success.”
Exceptionally prepared for success, student-centered, process-driven, integrity and continuous improvement are mentioned in the district’s logo, something Sedlacek said caught her eye while looking for a new job.
“When I saw the position being posted, and looked at the website and started to do my homework and my research, the logo really jumped out at me,” she said. “It really linked with my own values and my own passion to bring the best education for all students.”
Sedlacek served as Baldwin-Whitehall School District’s assistant superintendent the past seven years.
She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, and is currently enrolled in its doctorate program for educational leadership.
Sedlacek, a 1980 Burrell High School graduate, started her career as a teacher in Florida with the Palm Beach County school district before returning to Pennsylvania to be an administrator.
She had a stint as assistant principal at Bentworth Senior High School in the Bentworth School District before becoming principal at Canonsburg Middle School in the Canon-McMillan School District and later Charleroi High School. It was then Sedlacek began her first stint in Baldwin-Whitehall, before working at the Watson Institute and as vice president of education services at Pressley Ridge.
Yamnitzky’s retirement plans include spending more time with her family, writing and remaining active in the borough. She’s confident the district is being left in good hands.
“I can’t imagine a time when I will not be involved in all of the great things that our borough offers,” Yamnitzky said. “I am confident that I am handing over the reins of the Assistant Superintendency to an experienced and talented educator who will bring a new perspective and creative ideas to the district. I wish her the best of luck.”
Board members all commended the outgoing assistant superintendent for her years of dedicated service.
“She will be missed and I wish not only her but also her family the very best for the future,” Schlauch said.
Sedlacek said reviewing Plum’s curriculum, and ensuring students are prepared for the 21st century in a safe and positive learning environment are among her top priorities.
“I definitely have big shoes to fill,” Sedlacek said. “(Yamnitzky’s) helped me transition … I have a lot to learn from her. She’s a great lady. She’s earned her retirement.”