Asked her top priority when she begins her new position as superintendent of the Deer Lakes School District, Janet R. Ciramella doesn't hesitate a minute: "Academic achievement, my total focus will be on academic achievement."
The top administrative official of the district was appointed unanimously to the post on Jan. 21. She has been serving as acting superintendent since June and will continue in that role until July 1, when she begins the permanent position.
"I feel wonderful. I was very excited to have the full support of the board, to know that they had confidence in me to be the leader," said Ms. Ciramella who holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in education from the University of Pittsburgh.
An employee in the district for 22 years, Ms. Ciramella, a resident of Pittsburgh, is keenly familiar with the district of about 1,920 students covering East Deer, Frazer and West Deer.
She said she believes students are "doing well but I feel they can do so much better. I really want the children to achieve and to move forward and be really proud of their accomplishments."
Ms. Ciramella said she will spend a substantial amount of her time in the classroom "so that I can have a good handle on what's happening at every grade level in every building." She said she hopes to give teachers more opportunities for professional development.
This year, only the district's East Union Intermediate Center achieved "adequate yearly progress" -- a state designation that gauges whether a predetermined percentage of the student has achieved adequate progress on state-mandated tests. The AYP was not achieved at the middle school in reading or at the high school in reading or math.
"The state had kept us at the same benchmark for three years. Now, that benchmark is moving higher and it's more difficult to meet that percentage. In 2014, they expect 100 percent and we want 100 percent. I believe we can do it," she said.
Ms. Ciramella will be paid $143,000 annually, up from the $138,000 salary she earned as assistant superintendent, the position she held before the retirement of Dean A. Casello in June. Ms. Ciramella has a five-year contract.
The school board has made no decision as to whether to fill the vacant assistant superintendent post she had held since September 2003. Her major areas of responsibility were curriculum and instruction and she coordinated all federal programs as well.
She said she and her staff are dividing the responsibilities.
Formerly, Ms. Ciramella was the principal of Curtisville Primary Center and coordinator for Title I and all federal programs since February 1999. Previous to that, she served as an assistant principal then principal, elementary curriculum coordinator and Chapter I coordinator of the former John F. Kennedy Elementary School in East Deer, Curtisville Elementary School and East Union Elementary Center.
Before joining the Deer Lakes staff in 1990, Ms. Ciramella was a teacher at St. Raphael's in Morningside and a principal at St. Philomena's in Squirrel Hill.
Karen Kane: email@example.com or 724-772-9180.