Dr. Roberta DiLorenzo has more than 1,600 reasons to inspire her, and every one of them has a name. As superintendent of the Washington School District, her job is to make sure that every student receives a quality education. It is a team effort that goes beyond reading and writing.
“I’m proud of the fact that we strive to educate the whole child, not just in academics, but social and emotional aspects as well. We are all connected to the goal of educating each and every student, and we are close to prescriptive for each individual. Each one gets the best of each of us.”
While most superintendents have worked in the classroom, few have the breadth of DiLorenzo’s teaching experience. She spent seventeen years teaching at all levels: elementary, middle school, and high school, in both regular and special education classes. She understands what teachers need.
“My role as superintendent is to minister to District employees to assure that educational, fiscal and physical supports are in place so that all members of our learning community can effectively do their jobs. This frees them to devote all their energies to one goal ‐ fulfilling our mission statement: ‘Washington School District offers all students the opportunities to become productive, honorable citizens.’ All means all. We say what we do and do what we say. I must be held accountable and model acceptance of this responsibility ‐ only then can I expect the same from others.”
Under her leadership, the District has achieved extraordinary success in some academic areas. Despite the fact that 40% of District students are on free lunches, which often equates to lower academic achievement and low standardized scores, Washington has the 5th highest percentage of students in Western Pennsylvania proficient in math.
“It is a team effort. I try to be direct, honest, and authentic about our goals. Solutions don’t
come from one place; everyone works.” It is an undeniable reality that it takes money to educate students.
“She took a difficult financial situation and turned it around so that the Washington School District is now one of the most solvent districts in Washington County,” said District Solicitor Ken Baker.
Baker admits that while DiLorenzo’s fiscal skills are important, her interpersonal skills are even more impressive. She is a frequent attendee at student concerts, performances and sporting events.
“I have never encountered a superintendent who has taken more of her personal time to be present at student activities and to be aware of each student,” Baker says.
Does she know each student by name? “People always ask that,” she laughs. “The students
know me and who I am. They know I am accessible to them. It’s great to attend the events and stay connected.”
She feels her team of administrators, staff and teachers should share the award. “I am stunned and humbled by being nominated for this award. I am proud that someone recognized our work in education and helped shine a light on Washington School District.”
By Dorothy Tecklenburg