A newsmaker you should know: Deer Lakes High's new principal calls the school 'perfect size'

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Joseph Orr's daily commute jumped from eight miles to 48 miles for his new job, but he doesn't mind the extra time in his car.

"When I was being interviewed, someone asked me about the longer commute, and I told them maybe I will learn Spanish," he joked.

Mr. Orr, the new principal for Deer Lakes High School, lives in South Franklin in Washington County. Mr. Orr began his career in education as a teacher.

"I knew leaving high school that I wanted to teach. I was always teaching my friends how to swim or other things," he said.

Mr. Orr taught at the Milton Union Middle-High School in East Milton, Ohio, then moved with his wife, Karen, to the Atlanta area, where she went to chiropractor school. While there, he taught at Eagles Landing High School in McDonough.

"I had a 58-mile commute there," he joked.

After Mrs. Orr completed her studies, they moved to Pittsburgh, where she set up her practice in Canonsburg and he taught industrial technology at Chartiers Valley High School.

Mr. Orr then moved to the Trinity Area School District where he served as the high school assistant principal, director of child accounting and cyber school principal/coordinator.

"We were impressed with his knowledge about the common core and felt he would be a good leader for our teachers," said Janet Ciramella, Deer Lakes' acting superintendent.

Ms. Ciramella said Mr. Orr's enthusiasm for teaching and education was obvious during his interviews.

"His passion for student excellence came across immediately," she said, "He has a great personality and is very student oriented."

Mr. Orr said he has mixed emotions leaving Trinity.

"I felt torn leaving. They have one of the most wonderful staffs there. It is really a good, tight group and it was like my family, but change is good, too," he said.

Mr. Orr is getting to know his new staff, teachers and of course, the students.

"This school is the perfect size for getting to know the faculty and the students. We have just finished a beautiful new complex here and it is just a good place for me to be," he said.

"Right now, I am just information gathering, meeting everyone and getting to know and understand our culture," he said.

As far as that long commute, Mr. Orr said he is actually looking forward to the alone time to "decompress."

"I actually like that time to get my thoughts together. I also do like to take courses on tape, something I started on my commutes in Georgia," he said.


Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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