Career Spotlight

by John Conroy

The following are some students and alumni who were hired to new positions in 2015.

Michael Caviris, who graduated from the School of Education with a master's degree in special education, was announced as executive director for special services at the Georgetown County School District (GCSD). Caviris will work with principals at all of GCSD's 18 schools. This hire is also part of a revamped support system at GCSD for students with special needs.

Laura Cipriano was hired as the new assistant principal at Quaker Valley High School. Cipriano joins Quaker Valley from Riverside High School in Beaver County. While at Beaver County, Cipriano served as a journalism teacher, librarian, and instructional coach.

Susan Gentile was promoted to the position of director of instruction and learning at the Quaker Valley School District. The job began on July 1, 2015. Gentile has been with Quaker Valley since 2001, minus a stint at Fox Chapel School District in 2009 and 2010. While at Quaker Valley, she has served as an elementary principal, assistant high school principal, and high school English teacher.

Michael Ghilani, who earned his master's degree from the School of Education, was named superintendent of Montour School District. Ghilani, who joined the district in January, continued in his role as deputy superintendent until July 1 when he began his role as superintendent. Ghilani joined Montour from the Upper St. Clair district, where he served as an administrator for 14 years and was named 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals. He earned his MEd with the School of Education in its Psychology in Education Department in 1996.

Patrick M. Graczyk, who began Pitt's School of Education doctoral program this summer, was named by the Allegheny Valley School District as its new superintendent. He began the job on August 1, succeeding superintendent Cheryl A. Griffith, who announced her retirement in January. Allegheny Valley includes Cheswick and Springdale boroughs and Harmar and Springdale townships. Graczyk was previously assistant to the superintendent for Highlands School District, and has more than 20 years of experience in the education field, first as a middle school social studies teacher with the Highlands district in 1996 and later an elementary principal, federal programs coordinator, and assistant superintendent for the school system.

EdD graduate Lindsay Pfister was hired by West Jefferson Hills School District as its director of human resources. Pfister started her career as a teacher, working for 12 years from kindergarten through eight grade in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. She then became principal of Our Lady of Grace School, before becoming director of human resources for the Penn Hills School District. She graduated with her EdD in school leadership from the School of Education in the summer of 2015.

Alumnus Thomas J. Samosky, formerly principal of student affairs at Chartiers Valley High School, was chosen as the new principal at Trinity High School. He replaced Donald Snoke, who was named the district’s assistant superintendent in December. Samosky earned a Master of Education degree from the University of Pittsburgh and then taught special education at Bethel Park High School. He served as dean of discipline and assistant principal at Bethel Park before moving to Chartiers Valley High School, where he spent the last nine years as assistant principal, co-principal, and principal of student affairs K-12.

PhD graduate Robert Spina was named dean of Lamar University’s College of Education and Human Development after a national search. Spina, who has more than 25 years of combined teaching, research, and service, assumed his duties on July 1, 2015. Spina earned his PhD from the School of Education's Health and Physical Activity Department, and was previously associate dean of undergraduate education and college assessment at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. He served more than 10 years as a department chair and two years as an associate dean.

Stacey Snyder, doctoral graduate of the Administrative and Policy Studies program, was named by Southmoreland School District as the school psychologist/director of pupil services by a unanimous vote of the board. She began the role in early October.

Joel Thompson, who graduated with a master’s degree in secondary social studies education from the University of Pittsburgh, was unanimously approved as the new unit principal at the high school at Mt. Lebanon. He previously taught social studies at Fort Couch Middle School in the Upper St. Clair School District, as well as teaching social studies at Greensburg Catholic High School.

PhD graduate Shannon Varley was named director of curriculum, instruction, assessment and staff development at Keystone Oaks by a unanimous board vote in April. Varley earned her doctorate from the Administrative and Policy Studies Department. She was previously director of curriculum and instruction for the Avonworth School District, and started at Keystone Oaks on July 1. Her position is replacing the previous role of assistant superintendent.

PhD graduate Darlene Zellers was appointed as associate vice chancellor for the Office of Academic Career Development (OACD), health sciences. Zellers had served as the director of the OACD since 2003, and she assumed the additional role of associate dean for postdoctoral affairs in the School of Medicine in 2009. In 2011, she became the founding director of the OACD Center for Postdoctoral Affairs in the Health Sciences. In 2013, she earned a PhD in higher education administration, also from the University of Pittsburgh.