A newsmaker you should know: New elementary school principal has responsibility to uphold 'Blue Ribbon' status

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The 2012-13 school year has proved to be a season of change for Mark Iampietro of Baldwin.

He was named principal of Fred L. Aiken Elementary School in Green Tree on Aug. 23 after serving as a teacher in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District for seven years. He replaced Bobbi-Ann Barnes, who transferred to Dormont Elementary earlier this summer upon the retirement of veteran principal George Shevchik.

"It's time for a change to see what I can do with a building and a larger group of students," Mr. Iampietro said.

He was previously an elementary learning support teacher and middle school reading teacher and wrestling coach for the Baldwin-Whitehall School District. Prior to that, he served as a first-grade teacher for three years in the Mars Area School District.

Mr. Iampietro described the shift from educator to administrator as different and said that it requires a lot of flexibility on his part.

"As an educator, your day is kind of mapped out for you. You know what you're going to be doing for that day or what you have to do," he said. "As principal, you have things that you have to do, but then you have a lot of things that pop up that sometimes you have to deal with immediately."

Different as well is the shift from overseeing a classroom to overseeing a school, but Mr. Iampietro said he welcomed the transition since he had aspirations for an administrative role early on in his career.

As for being named principal at Aiken Elementary, Mr. Iampietro said the timing is right.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education named the school a National Blue Ribbon School based on their overall academic excellence.

They were one of only 305 across the country to receive the recognition and were the first Keystone Oaks school to receive the award. Mr. Iampietro said the recognition is good but with it comes the responsibility to maintain it.

"There's also a lot of pressure there because you definitely have to keep things going in the right direction," he said. "A lot of people would say 'you walked into a Blue Ribbon school,' but the fact remains that if anything happens at the school then they're going to blame me."

In addition to maintaining its Blue Ribbon status, Mr. Iampietro said he also hopes to increase the already high achievement levels at the school by meeting one of the challenges of the No Child Left Behind Act, which states that all students will achieve high academic standards by attaining proficiency or better in reading and mathematics by the 2013-14 school year.

Getting to know the new students, staff, parents and community, he said, is also important to him. To help ease the transition, he attended a few events sponsored by the school's Parent Faculty Organization prior to the start of the school year. His efforts proved successful as he said many students now greet him in the halls.

Though it's been a school year marked by change, Mr. Iampietro said that the fresh start is good and that he looks forward to staying in his new position for a while.

"I'm very happy with just being a principal, learning the education system from this side, and just letting whatever happens happen," he said. "It was the right time for me to move on to this stage of my career."

neigh_west - neigh_south

Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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