With about a week on the job, Jeff Evancho is excited to be part of the South Fayette family.
Evancho is the recently-hired assistant to the superintendent for secondary education, a new role this school year.
The district announced administrative moves earlier this year precipitated by the resignation of Assistant Superintendent David Deramo, who had been at South Fayette for nearly 10 years. Superintendent Kenneth Lockette previously said the district wanted two assistant superintendents because of growing enrollment.
Evancho comes to the district with a wealth of experience in developing afterschool programs and teacher professional development. He spent more than 15 years teaching art, primarily as a middle school instructor in Quaker Valley School District.
It was there that Evancho started working with afterschool programs, first with arts, and eventually expanding to a variety of topics. He was managing nine different programs in which a third of the sixth- through 12th-graders were participating. This launched Evancho’s leap out of the classroom and into an administrative track.
Evancho began to work on expanding the program regionally with foundation support, “removing traditional restrictions on instruction,” he said. Activities were still content-driven, but teachers were given room to play and experiment, “teach for the love of teaching” without being held back by standardized testing and graded assignments.
Evancho found that teachers would experiment after school and alter their classroom instruction based on the results. His work for the past five years has focused on teacher professional development and “research-based approaches to teaching and learning.”
Regionally and nationally, he has spearheaded a regional hub for professional development rooted in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero, which connects research to practice. He hopes to bring that knowledge and framework to South Fayette. He will work with the middle and high school principals to develop curriculum, programs and assessments, among other duties.
“It just feels natural, collaborative, authentic and right. I feel welcomed,” Evancho said of his short time with the district so far. “The thing I’m most excited about is the South Fayette community feels like a family.”
He has known many of the administrators in his previous regional work. South Fayette has a phenomenal local and national reputation, and he wants to help continue raising that high standard. He brings unique talents and experiences, coupled with other strong coworkers. South Fayette has an all-star team, he said.
“I believe South Fayette is well-positioned to raise that bar, and that’s an exciting moment to be a part of,” he said. “The school is well-situated to do amazing things and I want to be a part of that.”
He emphasized that he wants to be open and communicative with parents and the community “as we think about the next frontier.”
Evancho lives in the North Hills with his wife and two daughters. He comes from a large family which includes niece Jackie Evancho, who at 10 years old came in second on “America’s Got Talent,” helping to launch her singing career. He is passionate about the arts and the maker movement and enjoys gardening and painting in his free time.
A block of personnel items almost did not pass during the board’s Sept. 25 meeting due to an initial no vote from member Leonard Fornella and absences from Paul Brinsky, Lena Hannah and Teresa Burroughs. The alterations included retirements, tutors, nurses, coaches and items discussed during an executive session prior to the start of the meeting. Executive session items included hires, salary nudges, substitute teachers and resignations.
“I want my official count to be known, OK? Now, re-vote. You got me down as a no? Re-vote,” Fornella said before the board voted a second time on the personnel items that passed unanimously with the members present.
He said he would vote in favor if given a second opportunity, but felt he was “backed into a corner” because there were only five board members.
“The issues that I have have been noted in executive session,” Fornella said prior to the second vote. “I want that information to be communicated now, as it should be, and I hope that I don’t see this particular resume again. Understood?”
“Understood,” Lockette replied.
Fornella declined to comment further on his concerns after the meeting.
Also during the meeting:
- Lockette updated the board on the first comprehensive plan stakeholder meeting held Sept. 20. He said some common themes throughout the group discussions was preparing students for global work, as well as addressing the social and emotional needs of the whole child.
- The board approved an affiliation agreement with the Robert Morris University School of Nursing and Health Sciences for a year, as well as a dual enrollment agreement with the Community College of Beaver County through 2021.
- Student representative Julian Pikras shared a promotional video made by Joshua Milteer for the National Student Council conference the high school will host summer 2019.