New Castle News

Neshannock

June 26, 2014

Board, staff bids farewell to superintendent

NEW CASTLE — Dr. Mary Todora will retire Monday from the Neshannock school district.

“I remember eight and a half years ago when Dr. John Dietz (then-board president) called to tell me I got the job. I was thrilled,” Todora said at her final board meeting.

Since taking the helm at Neshannock, Todora said, her motto — Commitment to Excellence — “has been embraced by the staff, students and parents.

“There were bumpy times and some asked about commitment and questioned excellence, but overall, the administrators, teachers, students and parents made it come alive.”

Todora said farewell with a slide show of “all that is good and excellent.”

Ironically, the presentation was not excellent. A computer glitch prevented the presentation from taking place during the meeting. It was shown after.

The program, set to Whitney Houston’s song “Greatest Love of All” will be posted on the district’s website later. Todora said her love of the school district is reflected in the film.

High school principal Luca Passarelli, junior high principal Dr. Tracy McCalla and director of pupil services Concetta Fiorante — the first, second and third people hired by Todora — bid farewell.

“I had little faith in myself, if I was ready,” McCalla said. “You saw something in me and encouraged me.”

“I was your first hire, August 2006, as junior high principal,” Passarelli said. “It’s been pleasant, a great ride. Enjoy your retirement.”

Fiorante said Todora had called her “a diamond in the rough” when naming her to her current position.

“Over the years you’ve encouraged, taught and trusted me,” she said. “I hope that now I’m shining. Your commitment to excellence is amazing.”

The board also bestowed parting gifts on Todora, a Wendell August Forge bowl and plate commemorating her time in the district.

“We thank you for your time, dedication and service to the district,” board president Karen Houk said. The two women hugged as the presentation was made.

Houk and two other board members had “symbolically” voted no in December on Todora’s retirement request.

In April, the board hired Terence P. Meehan to replace Todora. He is to take over Tuesday.

As for her plans, Todora said, “I’m not done with education yet.”

She said she is teaching at Westminster College this summer and will continue there in the fall. She added she has been contacted by head hunters to consider other education positions.

“But right now, I’m planning to spend time with my grandsons and parents, and take a vacation in July. I’m also planning to finish my novel.”

Tentatively titled “Look the Other Way,” it’s the story of a superintendent asked to cover up for a school administrator who had raped a student.

“I’m hoping to finish it this summer.”

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