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February 2, 2013

In The Schools: Gabriel ends lifelong relationship with New Castle

NEW CASTLE — George Gabriel has spent all but 10 years of his life as a New Castle schools student, educator or administrator.

For the first six years, he wasn’t in school. Then there were the four years he went to college.

Gabriel, who has been the district’s superintendent for nearly a decade, retired Thursday in a tumultuous end to his 42-year education career.

The 63-year-old resigned amid conflict with school board members who were divided over the proposed elementary school consolidation project.

As the board seeks a successor through the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Stanley Magusiak, an assistant to the superintendent, has been named acting superintendent.

A TIME TO LEARN

Gabriel, a bachelor who grew up on the city’s South Side, has spent his adulthood living in his parents’ home on Lynn Street on the East Side.

He fondly remembers his first day at Lincoln-Garfield Elementary, and cherishes a snapshot of his 6-year-old self, taken outside the school that day.

Gabriel landed a job teaching fourth-graders at Lincoln-Garfield right out of college, then taught fifth- and sixth-graders there, eventually becoming the school’s principal.

His crowning glory in education came when he was named superintendent over the district he has called his lifelong home.

A couple of memorable teachers forged Gabriel’s desire to become one himself. One was Mike Zidow, a Spanish teacher who walked from the South Side to the high school every day.

“I never had him for class,” Gabriel recalled, “but he was an inspiration to me.”

Another was Vince Scialabba, an English teacher who made reading difficult classic novels interesting.

“Vince was an outstanding teacher. I learned so much from him, and teachers like him led me to the type of leadership style that I developed through the years,” Gabriel said.

“That may come as a surprise to him, because teachers never know at what point they’re going to impact somebody’s life.”

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