New Quaker Valley School District Superintendent Tammy Andreyko spent her first few days on the job doing the typical unpacking of boxes. Her focus, however, has been to meet the students and get to know the community.
She attended a program that introduced the kindergarteners to school by planting a garden, and laughed that she was just as “excited and nervous” on her first day, as the little ones are about starting school.
She met with principals and staff members who took her to nearly every restaurant in Sewickley, to get to know the area better.
That’s what she wants. To get to know the faces and build a connection.
She even hopes to maybe, someday soon, know all 1,900 students in the district by name.
“I’d really like to be connected and to feel as though they know me and I know them,” said Andreyko, of Franklin Park, as she started her second week on the job.
Her first day in Quaker Valley was Aug. 6.
What she’s most excited about, though, is the start of school and the kids returning to the buildings.
Andreyko was hired by Quaker Valley School Board members to serve as the district’s superintendent at the end of May. Her salary was set at $168,000.
She replaces Heidi Ondek, who retired at the end of the 2017-18 school yea to take a job as executive director at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children.
“The school board is excited to have Dr. Andreyko leading the way at Quaker Valley. We conducted a thorough search process and appreciate all of the input from the community,” school board President Sarah Heres said in an email. “Dr. Andreyko is a great fit for the district and we look forward to the start of the new school year.”
Andreyko, who started her teaching career in Chesapeake, Va., spent the last 21 years in the North Allegheny School District, where she worked as assistant principal, principal and assistant superintendent, overseeing curriculum and instruction.
Andreyko has known leaders in the Quaker Valley School District for years from working alongside them in the county, she said.
Coming to Quaker Valley was the next step for her in leadership, she said, and she hopes to be here for years to come.
“Change isn’t easy, but when I saw the opportunity to make a difference in this community, I couldn’t turn away,” she said.
“Quaker Valley has that special feel, whether you’re walking through town or driving through the community,” she said, “there is a feeling of community where people like to be together, they like to interact and that doesn’t happen everywhere. It’s very special and it’s unique.”
In her first few days on the job, she’s noticed the love the community has for the district and the desire it has to be a part of the education of the students. That’s special, she said.
As the 2018-19 school year begins, Andreyko, a mom of twins Leah and Logan who are headed into their sophomore year at North Allegheny, said she knows the nerves and excitement families are experiencing across the area first hand.
The new backpacks and first day outfits. She’s done it all, for her kids and herself.
Kindergarten through ninth graders headed back to class on Aug. 22. Tenth through 12th graders head back Aug. 23.
As she excitedly talks about the start of a fresh year, Andreyko also talks about plans for the future in Quaker Valley. First, she plans to listen.
District leaders will look at the district’s core values to ensure students are getting that “important and powerful experience” where they feel safe, comfortable and connected.
Student achievement, dynamic curriculum and college and career readiness will be focuses.
“But, we’ll focus on the whole child, the resilience, that feeling of wellness and that inclusive feeling of diversity,” she said.
The district is about to embark on crafting its next comprehensive plan that will tie in all of the stakeholders to review its mission and goals. The comprehensive plan should take time and tie in everyone, Andreyko said.
The 2018-19 school year will be the year to study all of that. The plan is due to the state Department of Education in November 2019.
District leaders also “really are ready to start talking about the high school project again,” Andreyko said.
The district in the last year purchased more than 128 acres of land as the possible site to construct a new high school. They say a new school is needed to replace the aging 90-plus year old school where students now learn.
“I don’t see the high school project as just a high school project. I see it as a project that will impact K to 12 and will really change the way our kids think about this community and this community of learning,” Andreyko said.
Right now, Andreyko said, she’s on a “listening tour” to talk with community leaders and district staff about the project.
“We have a long way to go,” she said. “We don’t have plans for you yet.”
Andreyko said she plans to spend her first 100 days listening. She hopes at 100 days, she will be able to give an informal report of her vision and goals for the district.
Until then, you’ll probably see her around.
She plans to get on buses at the elementary schools on the first day. She’s going to be at sporting events. School was her favorite place as a child and she still loves it.
“A vision right now is to really understand what learning looks like for our young people and how we prepare them for this new world that they are a part of and how do we provide the best professional development to our faculty,” she said.