Greater Latrobe School District administrator Gennaro "Jamie" Piraino has spent nearly his entire career in the district where he grew up. But in April, the 39-year-old administrator will move west to become Franklin Regional's new superintendent.
At its Nov. 26 meeting, the Franklin Regional school board approved, 7-0, the hiring of Mr. Piraino. His annual salary will be $135,000.
Franklin Regional's superintendent, P. Emory D'Arcangelo, announced his retirement in June. He has served in that position since 2004.
"I feel like George Bailey in 'It's a Wonderful Life.' You never know the relationships you build with people until you experience a pending separation from them," Mr. Piraino said.
Before becoming a Latrobe administrator in 2001, Mr. Piraino was a learning support teacher at Greater Latrobe Junior High School. He has also served that district as an assistant principal and the director of elementary education and is now assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
Mr. Piraino, who has a doctorate, said he is looking forward to his move and the challenges ahead.
"Franklin Regional has been a leader in the county and across the region. It's committed to a first-class education for its children, and it's a community that values education," he said.
When considering his new position, Mr. Piraino said he was attracted to the district's 21st Century Learning Community concept that combines the science of teaching, connections to communitywide learning, in-depth teacher knowledge and sustainability of leadership.
"It's critical to providing students with academic achievement and professional guidance," he said.
School board member Paul Scheinert said during its search the board looked for a candidate who would be able to work with a professional learning community, a concept that stresses that students master skills before moving on to the next level of learning.
"Dr. Piraino has used this process and has been well versed in it. He used it effectively at Baggaley [Elementary School]," Mr. Scheinert said.
Mr. Piraino was also attracted to Franklin Regional's implementation of the Olweus bullying prevention program, he added.
The challenges faced by Franklin Regional, he said, are similar to those of many school districts.
"In an era of tight budgets, we need to balance the challenges of No Child Left Behind while providing students with a successful academic program," he said.
Always passionate teaching, Mr. Piraino was sold on special education during his junior year of high school when he volunteered for Special Olympics.
"As soon as I volunteered and worked with students with disabilities, I knew I had a passion for helping them with their journey. It's still my love, to be honest," he said.
Mr. Piraino said he still considers himself a teacher and said parents and students can count on him being "visible" at school events, usually with his wife, Carol, and his five children, ages 10 and under.
"This is exciting. Franklin Regional has been very welcoming," he said.
Laurie Bailey, freelance writer: email@example.com