A dozen neighbors you should know
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Every Thursday, in a feature called "Resume: A newsmaker you should know," we shine a spotlight on someone from the South Hills whose work and character add to the quality of life here.
Here is a recap of a dozen from the dozens of outstanding citizens who shared their Resumes this year:
Kevin Rice breaks the stereotype that vo-tech students do not go on to get academic degrees. Mr. Rice, who started out at Mon Valley Career and Technology Center in Charleroi, now has a bachelor's degree, two master's degrees, a principal's certificate and a superintendent's letter of eligibility. In January, Mr. Rice, 40, of Scenery Hill, was named director of career and technical education at Steel Center Area Vocational Technical School in Jefferson Hills. The school has about 625 students from 11 school districts in southern Allegheny County. He said in a Jan. 26 Resume that he plans to build on the school's history and join in reform efforts in the state and nation to "invigorate high school career and technical education while helping to rebuild our economy." Mr. Rice noted that a shortage of skilled labor exists these days and schools like Steel Center are needed more than ever.
Bethel Park School District has a new superintendent who said she believes that teachers are born -- not made. In a Feb. 2 Resume, Nancy Aloi Rose, 56, said she always wanted to be an educator and at an early age would reflect on how her teachers touched her life. Such sentiment runs in the family: Ms. Rose's two grown daughters are teachers. Ms. Rose, who came to the district in 1998, was appointed by the school board after the death of Thomas Knight in 2011.
Alice Greenway, 62, of Dormont was named 2012 Direct Care Worker of the Year by the Pennsylvania Department of the Aging. She testified in May before the state Legislature in Harrisburg on ways to improve home care for ill and elderly people. In a March 29 Resume, she explained that she incorporates something from a patient's life -- a pet, a photograph -- into daily care. She works for Home Instead Senior Care, a worldwide provider of nonmedical home care.
A country song on his car radio inspired a Washington & Jefferson College professor to write a book on storytelling. Jonathan Gottschall recalled in an April 19 Resume that the song was "Stealing Cinderella" -- the lyrics tell of a young man's visit to his sweetheart's father to ask her hand in marriage -- stealing Cinderella, if you will. Mr. Gottschall, 39, of Washington, Pa., said the song made him wonder how deeply storytelling can affect lives. His answer came in the form of a book titled, "The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human," released April 10 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The book was selected by Oprah Winfrey for review in O magazine. The book continues to sell, and Mr. Gottschall, who has a doctorate, continues research using scientific methods to better understand literature and the humanities.
G. Alan Yeasted of Mt. Lebanon has stepped into his new role as governor of the Pennsylvania Western Chapter of the American College of Physicians, the national organization of internists. In a May 24 Resume, he said that to prepare for the post, he spent one year in what he described as a fairly intensive educational program: each month, he studied a new subject and familiarized himself with topics such as membership, finances and organizational structure. Dr. Yeasted described the group as progressive and academically oriented with a focus on keeping physicians updated on all aspects of medicine and patient care. He said his goals for the next four years include increasing the group's visibility in Western Pennsylvania and recruiting new members. He is senior vice president and chief medical officer at St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon. He also is an internal medicine private practice physician and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
In a June 14 Resume, Adam Sutch told us he was just 10 years old when he decided to take up a musical instrument that dates back at least a thousand years. Mr. Sutch, 21, a student at California University of Pennsylvania, plays a hammered dulcimer. The instrument has 30 to 100 strings and is considered both string and percussion. Mr. Sutch, of Daisytown, and his family have a band and have recorded a number of CDs, some of which include traditional Irish songs. His brother Aaron, 18, plays marimbula, a folk instrument somewhat like an upright bass. Another brother, Austin, 13, plays the bodhran, an Irish drum, and the cajon, a percussion instrument.
New Dormont manager Jeffrey Naftal said he's here to stay. Mr. Naftal, 52, was hired July 2 and is the borough's 10th manager in 11 years. He came from Lancaster, S.C., after a series of municipal administration jobs, mostly in Florida. Mr. Naftal was chosen from 22 applicants from all over the nation. He said in a July 19 Resume that he was not "here to set policies ... I'm here to answer questions." He planned on spending a lot of time outside of the office and in the community learning what is on residents' minds.
A Canonsburg educator said she helps others around the world through the Rotary Club, and the service club agrees: Stephanie Urchick was appointed trustee of the Rotary Foundation. Ms. Urchick, 57, who has a doctorate in education, is only the third woman to be so named. In an Aug. 9 Resume, she explained that her duties include raising, investing and awarding money to Rotarians doing humanitarian work. Ms. Urchick, who owns her own consulting business called Platform Poise, has been on humanitarian trips to Dominion Republic, Poland, Nigeria and India.
Christopher Kelley is only 18, but the Mt. Lebanon resident already has written and directed a feature film. In a Sept. 20 Resume, Mr. Kelley said he started writing "Let Me Down Slowly" the summer after finishing his freshman year at Mt. Lebanon High School. By the time he was done filming the screenplay in January, he had tacked onto his name the titles of editor and director in the film credits, which he hopes may roll on a screen at either the Sundance or Slamdance film festivals. He described the film as a "teenage, angsty drama with elements of the thriller and horror genre." Mr. Kelley is majoring in cinema/photography and politics at Ithaca College, where he is a freshman. He had made some films in high school for classes in television production, advanced video production and digital filmmaking, but the 71-minute "Let Me Down Slowly" is his first, full-scale feature movie. It was shot mostly in Mt. Lebanon.
When Edward Wehrer, then executive director of Carnegie Library of Homestead, learned that non-educators with an advanced degree in business were now eligible to become school district superintendents in this state, he applied for the top post in the Steel Valley School District, his alma mater. He was hired in June and in an Oct. 11 Resume, he said the change in the law is a good one because "a superintendent is closer to a CEO than to a principal." Mr. Wehrer, 46, of Munhall, has put together a leadership team to guide strategic planning in the district.
After years as a performer with the Zodiac Dance Company in Buffalo, N.Y., and with several high-profile national tours, Michele Utzig-Philage turned to teaching in the South Hills. In a Nov. 1 Resume Ms. Utzig-Philage said she and her husband Brian decided they wanted to live in a more family-friendly community. So they moved to Castle Shannon where she recently was named artistic director of the Center for Theater Arts in that community. The family now includes son Riley, 3, and is glad they made the move.
Ruth White, 80, told us in a Dec. 6 Resume that she hopes to continue to be a tireless tutor for children. Ms. White of McKeesport was honored by the McKeesport school board for a decade of "selfless service" to district students. Ms. White spends 20 hours a week throughout the school year tutoring elementary students in reading and she helps teachers with games and story times. She also buys books to give to students on their birthdays and as awards at the school year's end. In addition, last year Ms. White read more than 100 children's books to students at Centennial elementary.
-- Compiled by Virginia Kopas Joe
First Published December 27, 2012 12:00 am