Ambridge Area School District has hired Cynthia Zurchin as its new superintendent, leaving Moon Area less one assistant superintendent.
In a little more than two years, Mrs. Zurchin has risen from principal at Schaeffer Elementary School in Pittsburgh -- she left in February 2011 -- to assistant superintendent in Moon Area and now to top administrator at Ambridge Area.
She is perhaps best recognized for working toward districtwide implementation of the Whale Done approach of accentuating the positive to all students in Moon Area.
As a Moon administrator, she also co-authored a book with trained life coach Jim Ballard, "The Whale Done! School: Transforming a School's Culture by Catching Students Doing Things Right."
On July 1, she will move her office and her Whale Done approach to learning to Ambridge Area, where she will serve as the district's new superintendent.
"I will continue to live a Whale Done way of life in all regards. This philosophy is based on building trust, accentuating the positive and redirecting negative energy. These attributes are helpful throughout life," Mrs. Zurchin wrote in an email during a break in an all-day meeting on Monday at Moon Area.
She will replace Erwin Weischedel who retired after serving as superintendent since 2008.
"I look forward to the many exciting opportunities that await me at the Ambridge Area School District. I plan on building on the strengths of the district and reaching out to the staff and community for input on their needs and concerns. I'm working with the Ambridge board of directors to address more specific goals as I transition into this role," Mrs. Zurchin wrote.
Mrs. Zurchin received a four-year contract at a salary of $135,000 per year, said solicitor Gregory Gleason. Any increase in salary will be up to board discretion, he said
The district serves nearly 3,000 students and is the largest school system in Beaver County. It covers Ambridge, Baden, Economy, Harmony and South Heights. Moon Area has an enrollment of about 3,600 students from Crescent and Moon.
In discussing Mrs. Zurchin's new role at Ambridge, Mr. Gleason said she is "not one to let grass grow under her feet."
Recognized as a hard worker by her peers, she will have challenges to face at her new school district and work to be done in improving scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests, a challenge faced by all school administrators.
"There is always room for improvement so that students can be as prepared as possible for their futures," wrote Mrs. Zurchin.
"I plan to target our efforts toward those students not performing at proficiency levels in order to ensure that all Ambridge Area students will be successful."
Mrs. Zurchin, 49, received her bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in education from Duquesne University. She lives in Franklin Park with her husband and two sons.
Sonja Reis, freelance writer: email@example.com.