Obituary: Kenneth R. Chuska | Forward-thinking teacher was 'an inspiration'
Share with others:
Kenneth R. Chuska loved to learn and spent his life in that pursuit -- not only for himself, but in helping others reach their potential as educators and administrators, as well.
After spending 10 years as a school teacher, he went on to become a curriculum specialist and program coordinator, and later served as an educational consultant to school districts across the country.
He died Saturday from multiple organ failure. He was 85.
After serving in the Air Force during World War II, Mr. Chuska, of Mt. Lebanon, attended the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned his bachelor's degree as well as his doctoral degree.
He began his teaching career in 1950 in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. In 1960, he became an elementary school principal in Peters and in 1976 joined the Allegheny Intermediate Unit as the administrator for the gifted and talented program. He retired in 1988, but continued to serve as an educational consultant until 2003.
Jean Roach, who worked as a teacher under Mr. Chuska at Peters and then later worked with him in their consulting business, said he was very aware of what was good teaching and what wasn't.
"He was a very dynamic educator in promoting thinking strategies with students," Ms. Roach said. He would show the students how they could use new ways of thinking in adulthood to make it a type of life lesson.
"One of Ken's greatest strengths was recognizing leadership abilities in others and fostering that and mentoring them, and pushing them along until they reached a higher level," Ms. Roach said.
He was also an innovator and developed a five-year curriculum strategy in which one major subject would be reviewed each year, and be looked at again every five years.
"Before that, most districts just did it hodgepodge," Ms. Roach said.
As a person, he was always looking for new things to explore and learn.
"He had a lot of varied interests and curiosities," said his daughter, Christianne Chuska of Brookline. "He was, for me, an inspiration and motivator.
"He passed his love of learning on to me."
She remembers as a child her father bringing home an incubator so she could watch a chick hatch from an egg, and going to Lake Erie and catching crayfish to learn about them.
Ms. Chuska also recalls her father teaching her lessons of civil rights and about injustice.
Ms. Chuska said her father showed his creativity through woodcarving and photography. He also was a world traveler, having visited 60 countries on six continents.
One of his favorite trips was to Africa where he photographed the wildlife. He enjoyed music, and "Fiddler on the Roof" was his favorite musical, Ms. Chuska said.
She described her father as having a great sense of humor and that he loved to tease.
"He got along with everybody and really knew how to break the ice with people," Ms. Chuska said.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife of 61 years, Genelle; son Jeffrey Don Chuska of Conway, S.C.; and stepbrother Michael Turner of Ulapool, Scotland.
Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Beinhauer Funeral Home at 2828 Washington Road, Peters. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Center Presbyterian Church, 255 Center Church Road, McMurray.
First Published July 4, 2012 12:00 am