• Sept. 20, 2017

    School leader selected as finalist for national award

    Dr. Sharon Suritsky An Upper St. Clair School District administrator has been named a finalist for a national leadership award. Dr. Sharon Suritsky, assistant/deputy superintendent, is one of two finalists in the Women in School Leadership Award in the Central Office/Principal category, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

    Dr. Suritsky will attend the AASA National Conference on Education Feb. 15-17, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn., for the final round of the selection process. The national winner will be selected and announced during the conference on Friday, Feb. 16.

    “Fewer than 25 percent of school district leaders are female, which means it’s essential to create opportunities that will bring more women into the field of education administration,” Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, said. “The Women in School Leadership Awards program serves as a vehicle for women educators to develop their leadership skills and advance their careers. We congratulate our finalists who have worked exceptionally hard in serving the students in their respective communities.”

    The awards are designed to recognize exceptional leadership of active, front-line female administrators who are making a difference in the lives of students every day and to pay tribute to the talent, creativity and vision of outstanding women educational administrators in the nation’s public schools. Three awards – the Superintendent Award, the Central Office/Principal Award and the School-Based Award – are presented annually at the AASA National Conference on Education.

    Candidates are judged based on leadership in meeting the learning needs of students, personal and organizational communication strength, constant professional improvement of knowledge and skills, and active community involvement.

    Nominated by Dr. Patrick T. O’Toole, superintendent of schools, Dr. Suritsky was praised for her mentorship of others, particularly female educational leaders.

    “Throughout Dr. Suritsky’s tenure with Upper St. Clair School District, she has mentored many individuals to become effective leaders, especially our female staff members,” Dr. O’Toole said. “She communicates well by sharing her thoughts and ideas, lets others’ strength and personal character show through, empowering them to strive to give 110 percent to the organization.”

    In addition, Dr. O’Toole noted her effectiveness in working with and leading teams to successfully develop and implement a variety of programs and initiatives.

    “Dr. Suritsky is known for being the one who silently drives several major district initiatives and projects,” he said. “She is highly skilled at maximizing the strengths of district leaders so that they collectively meet the goals of these initiatives and projects. She is often the one who is behind the scenes putting people in a position so that both they and the district are successful.”

    Dr. Suritsky, who currently oversees Upper St. Clair’s K-12 instructional program, joined the district’s administrative staff in 1996 as supervisor of special education. In 2009, acting assistant to the superintendent for curriculum and instruction was added to her responsibilities and in 2012 she was elevated to assistant superintendent. Dr. Suritsky has served in her current capacity as assistant/deputy superintendent since July 2014.

    In addition to providing leadership in the areas of curriculum, instruction and assessment, Dr. Suritsky has been instrumental in the acquisition of grants totaling more than $185,000 to support academic programs and school safety initiatives.

    Dr. Suritsky began her career in education as a special education teacher at the secondary level. In addition, she has previously taught special education courses at Duquesne University and Pennsylvania State University.

    She completed her undergraduate and doctoral studies in special education at Penn State University and earned her master’s degree in special education from Bloomsburg University. Her alma mater honored her with two awards including the Leadership and Service Award from the Penn State College of Education Alumni Society as well as the Excellence Award for Outstanding Professional Service and Teaching from the Penn State College of Education.

    Dr. Suritsky has served on the program committee for the Dr. Jean E. Winsand Institute for Women in Leadership for the past four years. In 2016, she received the Jean Winsand Distinguished Female Educator Award from the Tri-State Area School Study Council.

    The complete list of Women in School Leadership Award finalists include:

    • The School Based Award – awarded to any female classroom teacher or school based specialist. Equivalent job titles may include teacher or school-based counselor.
      • Fran Glick, coordinator of digital learning, Baltimore County Public Schools, Baltimore, Md.  
      • Karen Rubican, counselor, Canon-McMillan School District, Canonsburg, Pa.  
    • The Central Office/Principal Award – awarded to any female central office or building-level leader
      • Sharon Suritsky, assistant/deputy superintendent, Upper St. Clair School District, Upper St. Clair, Pa. 
      • Tania Tong, director of special education and student services, Medford School District, Medford, Ore.   
    • The Superintendent Award – awarded to any female superintendent
      • Blondean Davis, superintendent, Matteson School District 162/Southland College Prep Charter High School, Richton Park, Ill.
      • Laurie Barron, superintendent, Evergreen School District #50, Kalispell, Mont. 

    The final award recipients in each category will be announced during the AASA National Conference on Education, Feb. 15-17, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. For more information on the Women in School Leadership Awards, visit the AASA website or contact Jennifer Rooney, AASA assistant director, meetings and awards, at jrooney@aasa.org or 703-875-0778.