July 2014

June 29, 2014 by smasd


This will be my last blog as the Superintendent of St. Marys Area School District.  Soon you will have a new Superintendent.  Dr. G.Brian Toth will take charge on August 18th, along with the new Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Joshua Williams.  These are two highly qualified educators who will continue to lead the district in the right direction.  I congratulate them on their new appointments and wish them well.

The district is in good shape.  The building and grounds have been improved, the fiscal condition of the district is in excellent shape, the academics are definitely in need of some improvements which can certainly be accelerated by better attendance by all and some additional efforts.  We are grateful for great administrators, teachers, support staff and our current School Board Members who are all working collaboratively to enable students to achieve.

It has been a very interesting 26 years in the district.  When I started here in 1988 there was close to 3000 students and only a couple of computers in the district.  Oh my goodness how things have changed.  Fewer students for sure because next year’s enrollment will be less than 2200 students and there are computers in all classrooms and in the pockets of most students.  :)    Those cell phones are more powerful than the best computer that was in the classroom or office in the district in 1990.  The other thing that has changed is the numerous mandates from the government, the high stakes testing that is done in almost every grade and the shrinking value of the educational dollar.  Although many things have changed, education is still relatively the same in many aspects.  It is the foundation of success.  It is the thing that can change a community, state and nation.  Keep your support ongoing for public education.

Throughout these years I have had the privilege of meeting and working with absolutely wonderful young people who are working hard to get a solid education in order to obtain a bright future.  Our goal here is to give each and every child the opportunity to succeed, academically, socially, morally and at their own level. This can be done because we have the resources here to get it done.

I leave with great pride in having the opportunity to work with a wonderful team.

Farewell to all.


Ann Kearney



June 1, 2014 by smasd

Today is June 1st and an absolutely beautiful day.

We bid farewell to the following administrators and educators who are retiring:

Mr. Bob Grumley-SSMSES Principal

Mrs. Pattye Vollmer -IST teacher at SSMSES

Mr. Rick Miller-HS Biology teacher

Mr. Dennis Murray-MS Science teacher

We wish them a long, healthy, enjoyable retirement.

This past week was great as the district celebrated so many wonderful events.  Elementary schools celebrated the academic awards and had their field day events and fun times of bidding farewell for the summer.  On Thursday evening the matriculation ceremonies were held in the HS Carpin Auditorium dedicating the hard work of the students, teachers and support staff to their promotion to the ninth grade.  Mr. Wortman, the MS Administrator, once again wowed the audience with a song he wrote to baby pictures of the matriculating 8th graders.  He talked about Father Time going slow…although we know it does not.  Mr. Rob Schreiber carried the evening with his introductions and great sense of humor as he served as the Master of Ceremonies.  He is one of our many dedicated teachers who freely give of their time dedicating the life long desire to set a good example for our students and empower them to become the best in all aspects of their life.  Mr. Joe Schlimm, High School Assistant Principal, gave an outstanding welcome speech to the incoming freshman using props to further impress the youth of the 4 “Fs” in life.   Faith, Family, Future and Fun.  He is such a great motivational speaker and always engages the audience in his speeches.  We were then privileged to hear a couple of outstanding speakers from the Class of 2018.  The audience certainly enjoyed the “Thank You” presentation by Class President, Mario Chiappelli, especially when Dennis Murray (retiring this year) came on stage to accept his thank you card.  Lots of laughter and smiles from all in attendance.

Mrs. Dawn Erich then announced the awards as she does every year.  The audience had proud parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, grandparents, guidance counselors, administrators, teachers and support staff to cheer them on.  What a great event.  Congratulations to all of our incoming Freshman.


Then on Friday, May 30th, at 7 P.M. we celebrated a wonderful graduation for the Class of 2014 for 146 graduates.  This is the smallest graduation class that I can ever remember in the history of SMASD.  Dr. Williams gave his usual moving and humorous speech to the class.  The students gave him a standing ovation for his memorable send off.  Another great evening with students Amy Orr and Cat Riddle giving speeches.  More information can be found in the Daily Press.  It was a packed audience and such a WONDERFUL evening.  Thanks to all who help make these evenings such great memories, especially Mrs. Michelle Burdick, head secretary for the HS Principal. This was especially momentous for her and her husband as their daughter matriculated and their son graduated.  Thanks Michelle for making it special for all students.  We all know how much behind the scene work it takes to make these events run smoothly.

May everyone have an enjoyable summer.  The administrators now begin the intense work to prepare for the next school year.  This involves taking inventories, looking at grades and data, positioning faculty and support staff according to student needs, ordering supplies and materials, scheduling classes and ARAMARK employees preparing the buildings and grounds.  Of course the tech department sets of in full speed to prepare all of the technology.  Every computer in the district gets re-imaged with the proper software programs.

Some major work will be happening in the district this summer…

  • New carpeting in the HS Carpin Auditorium
  • New fire alarm system for the HS building
  • New roof on SSMSES
  • New roof on FOX Township Elementary School
  • 3 Parking lots to be repaved (2 at the HS and 1 at the MS)
  • Summer maintenance projects that occur each year–painting, waxing, cleaning, etc.
  • Kelly Gym at SSMSES will totally get redone including new windows, ceiling, painting, wall pads and refinishing the floor.

All of these projects will be done and “hopefully” completed by the opening day at the end of August.

Summer school at the MS and HS will be starting soon and helping students to get back on track.

I have enjoyed all of the interactions with parents and students this past year.  We will continue to review the past year, what works and and what needs improved upon.  New goals will be set for the 2014-15 school year and we will always work on continuous improvements.

Stay well and have a relaxing summer.


Ann Kearney


April 30, 2014 by smasd

The Merry Month of May has arrived and I must say that the sunshine picture  that I placed on my April blog evidently didn’t charm the warmer weather to Elk County.  We are all hoping for some warm Spring weather.


Posted by Ann Kearney 5-2-2014

The week of May 5-10 is Teacher Appreciation Week and I would like to  take this opportunity on behalf of my office and the members of the St. Marys Area School Board to say thank you to each of our teachers for all you do for the students.

Teaching remains one of the most important, difficult and extremely complex of professions.  The media and the political arena sometimes does not hold the profession to the highest esteem that it once did, particularly in the public schools.  We must continue to work to regain that recognition and respect.  STAND UP FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION.

It is the ongoing dedication of special people who teach our children that make our schools successful. Thank you teachers for all you do for the kids every day.  I’d also like to acknowledge the wonderful administrators, support staff, cafeteria staff, Aramark staff, bus drivers, and the volunteers who all work together to make the school system work smoothly.  It is a complicated system overall but runs smoothly because of the cooperation of work done by all of the employees.  THANK YOU.


Ann Kearney-Superintendent

Some tidbits:

On April 29th, students were inducted into the NHS and the NTHS.  This is what we aim toward for all students.  This was my 25th straight year attending this ceremony at SMAHS and it is such a highlight of the year.  Congratulations to all of the students and families for such an achievement.

Our  high school band students left  on April 30th for their annual trip to Wildwood, New Jersey.    They always enjoy the thrill of competing against so many other districts outside of PA and typically come back with awards. We wish them well in their competitions.

Tomorrow, May 2nd, the MS will be having their Civil War Encampment…mostly in the building due to the continuation of this rainy week.  It is a tribute to Ms. Cherri Gigliotti who engages students in the love of history and the Civil War.

Check out the webpage for the listing of all the activities in the district.

Random thoughts….

With just a few weeks remaining in the school year, it is a time when we think about all of the people to whom we’ll be saying farewell. We pay tribute to the seniors who will walk across the Carpin Auditorium stage  on May 30th.    They will have earned their diplomas, and like their parents, we hope we have contributed in preparing them for post-high school life, whether they will go directly to university/college/tech schools, the military, or other worthy pursuits. Our graduating seniors will have had the chance to experience the “four A’s of education;” academics, activities, athletics, and the arts. We have tried to provide a well-rounded education for all.  We wish them well on each of their individual and unique journeys in life.

We are also bidding farewell to a few teachers, an administrator , our business manager and some staff who are retiring or otherwise leaving the district. They have worked hard over the years and are heading into interesting new chapters in their lives. I want to express my appreciation for their very significant contributions, whether directly or indirectly (or both) in helping children in the St. Marys Area School District.  I believe everyone knows Bob Grumley and if so, you have heard him say more than once, “I am blessed!”  Well if the real truth be know it is the district that has been blessed to have him as our South St. Marys Street Elementary School Principal for over 10 years.  He will be missed.  His side-kick Pattye Vollmer is also retiring.  She has helped hundreds of struggling students succeed through her patient assistance and will always be remembered as one of those caring, loving educators.  Dennis Murray and Rick Miller, both science teachers are retiring at the end of the school year.  Each with their unique personalities and teaching strategies have brought science to life for many, many years.  Cindy FinGado, our Business Manager who is a graduate of our school system and has worked here since high school is also retiring at the end of June.  She has been and continues to be my esteemed colleague with a wealth of information on school finance.  We wish them all well for an enjoyable retirement.

While the summer months are relatively slow compared to the intensity of the school year, a lot of behind-the-scenes work will continue. An example is that the district technology department works tirelessly to update, install and pull wires for the continued improvement of the technology needs in our buildings.  One of our goals for the next year is to continue to improve our district and school websites so that they are providing to our patrons information that is most valuable.  You have all become quite good at finding information using POWER SCHOOL which is our Student Information Management System.

Another major change will be the welcoming of a new superintendent.  It is a strange feeling to know that I will be soon closing my office door for the last time, turning in my keys and saying good-bye to the career that I have treasured with all my heart.  I have been privileged to work with tremendous board members, administrators, teachers, support staff and most importantly the students.   My last blog will be in June and I will have more to say on this matter.  I am sure you are counting the days until you can read more.  :)

Take time to watch this video…keep a positive attitude and be GRATEFUL to be an AMERICAN!

So Lucky to be an American


Mrs. Kearney


March 31, 2014 by smasd

sunshineAPRIL… good weather is just around the corner–actually April is starting off with some well needed sunshine.  SUNSHINE please come and stick around.  We are all looking forward to more sunny days for sure.  The theme of sunshine is interwoven throughout this blog.

We have begun the last quarter of the school year.  Report cards will be distributed on April 2 throughout the district.  PSSA (Pennsylvania State School Assessments) for Reading-Language Arts and Math are complete.  Science is scheduled for later this month.  The KEYSTONES will be given in May.  The content that is tested is the knowledge that all children should know when they graduate so they are career and college ready.


BUDGET-The district is working at continuing to prudently present a fiscally sound and balanced budget.  The April Board Workshop and meeting will cover the district’s revenues and expenditures.   The efforts of the school board to hold the line on taxes and keep all programming at a high level for our students and community is no easy task.  The public needs to continue voicing their concerns over the cyber school costs to the taxpayers.  Currently it is costing our district over one mill.

There have been so many things happening in the district, new topics in the classroom, preparation for the annual field trips, seniors gearing up for their future plans…college, military or work, Spring sports have begun, musicals at the elementary level and of course the district production of “Annie.”  I chuckled and jokingly said they selected that one in my honor because I am retiring at the end of this school year.  That is what I was called growing up, “Annie.”   I feel a lot like the character in Annie…not that I was an orphan but because my life had a dramatic change like the little orphan.  My life change came due to a great public education  enabled by the outstanding teachers and supportive parents who helped me to obtain a solid education up to graduation from high school and then a post secondary college education.  Getting a college degree was truly a life-changing event for me and allowed me to end up in my current seat as the district superintendent.  I taught a few years and then I was a stay at home mom for 16 years before returning to my career.

An education can change a person’s life  and it is my hope that all parents will support their children in their pursuit for a solid education.  It isn’t easy, but working together with the school to be sure your child(ren) progresses throughout the grade levels with the highest level of success is paramount.   Pulling in the same direction is what we all need to do.  Sometimes it might be pushing in the same direction!   As this is the last quarter of this school year it is a good time to emphasize that attendance and hard work are two keys to reaching this success.  We all love our children and parenting is one of the hardest jobs there is…teaching could justifiably be the second hardest.  Let’s agree to work together.

Children are their parents’ “sunshine.”  Student success and growth are a teachers’ sunshine.

I always sang and still sing, “You are My Sunshine” to my children and grandchildren.

As we are all hoping for Mother Nature’s sunshine to get here I am posting a story that was sent to me by my wonderful sister in-law who just spent a long year struggling to recover from breast cancer.  I received the letter yesterday when I was in need of some sunshine in any form.  It reminded me of how powerful relationships are. Thank you Marie!

A bright attitude,  believing in a good ending, helping each other and keeping a song in your heart can work wonders.   The story she sent reminded me that sunshine comes in many forms.

Our district strives to provide the above things everyday in our classrooms.  While parents are dealing with 1-2-3 and sometimes more children, our teachers deal with many, many more children throughout the day.   If we all agree to work collaboratively toward the same goals (our mission statement for the district) then certainly the sunshine will be brilliant.

This is the story she sent me.  It is a very heart warming one.  Here it is:

Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. They found out that the new baby was going be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sang to his s sister in Mommy’s tummy. He was building a bond of love with his little sister before he even met her.

The pregnancy progressed normally for Karen, an active member of the the Creek United Methodist Church in Morristown, Tennessee. In time, the labor pains came. Soon it was every five minutes, every three, every minute. But serious complications arose during delivery and Karen found herself in hours of labor. Would a C-section be required?

Finally, after a long struggle, Michael’s little sister was born. But she was in very serious condition. With a siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushed the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital, Knoxville, Tennessee.

The days inched by. The little girl got worse. The pediatrician had to tell the parents there is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst. Karen and her husband contacted a local cemetery about a burial plot. They had fixed up a special room in their house for their new baby they found themselves having to plan for a funeral. Michael, however, kept begging his parents to let him see his sister. I want to sing to her, he kept saying. Week two in intensive care looked as if a funeral would come before the week was over. Michael kept nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care. Karen decided to take Michael whether they liked it or not. If he didn’t see his sister right then, he may never see her alive. She dressed him in an oversized scrub suit and marched him into ICU. He looked like a walking laundry basket. The head nurse recognized him as a child and bellowed, ” Get that kid out of here now. No children are allowed.” The mother rose up strong in Karen, and the usually mild-mannered lady glared steel-eyed right into the head nurse’s face, her lips a firm line. He is not leaving until he sings to his sister” she stated. Then Karen towed Michael to his sister’s bedside. He gazed at the tiny infant losing the battle to live. After a moment, he began singing. In the pure-hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sang: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray.” Instantly the baby girl seemed to respond. The pulse rate began to calm down and become steady. “Keep on singing, Michael,” encouraged Karen with tears in her eyes. “You never know, dear, how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away. “As Michael sang to his sister, the baby’s ragged, strained breathing became as smooth as a kitten’s purr. “Keep on singing, sweetheart.”

“The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms”. Michael’s little sister began to relax as rest, healing rest, seemed to sweep over her. “Keep singing, Michael.” Tears had now conquered the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glowed. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don’t take my sunshine away…”

The next, day…the very next day…the little girl was well enough to go home. Woman’s Day Magazine called it The Miracle of a Brother’s Song. The medical staff just called it a miracle. Karen called it a miracle of love.

by Karin Simmons Knapp

This story reminded me of the classroom.  Building those relationships between parent-student-teacher can be life changing.  Persistence, believing in each other and true love and respect can help us all to bring on the sunshine.  If you set your sights high for your children and students, help them to find ways and strategies to reach those goals, when you look into the future they will be basking in the sunshine.

Have Wonderful Day!


Your Superintendent—Ann Kearney

Keep a song in your heart and music in public education.



March 1, 2014 by smasd

Hello Everyone.  It is hard to believe that March is here.  March brings with it so many things for school districts.  It begins the season of ASSESSMENTS and of course the last quarter of the school year.  We have been busy preparing for the PSSA assessments from grades 3-8 and the KEYSTONES that will be given in May.

The Winter Sports season is over and the awards ceremony will be on March 11th.  We have the annual District Musical to be presented on March 20, 21, 22.  This year’s production will be Annie.  Lots of great entertainment is in store for our community.  The AP Economics classes will be taking their annual trip to New York City.   Lots of activities and exciting things for our students.

We still  have weeks of winter weather to endure and let’s hope we can get through this and have a wonderful spring.



February 1, 2014 by smasd


happy-valentinesFebruary 2nd  is Ground Hog Day and we will all be awaiting “The Prediction” of what weather is to come.  Well after this past month, we are ALL hoping for a mild February because the extreme cold temperatures were certainly hard on everyone and their checkbooks.  February is also “Heart Month.”


When I saw this story on the Internet it truly touched my heart and I thought I would share it with those who read my blog.  I have permission to share on a public education site.  I hope you enjoy…

A few weeks ago, I went into Chase’s class for tutoring.
I’d emailed Chase’s teacher one evening and said, “Chase keeps telling me that this stuff you’re sending home is math – but I’m not sure I believe him. Help, please.” She emailed right back and said, “No problem! I can tutor Chase after school anytime.” And I said, “No, not him. Me. He gets it. Help me.” And that’s how I ended up standing at a chalkboard in an empty fifth grade classroom staring at rows of shapes that Chase’s teacher kept referring to as “numbers.”
I stood a little shakily at the chalkboard while Chase’s teacher sat behind me, perched on her desk, using a soothing voice to try to help me understand the “new way we teach long division.”  Luckily for me, I didn’t have to unlearn much because I never really understood the “old way we taught long division.” It took me a solid hour to complete one problem, but l could tell that Chase’s teacher liked me anyway. She used to work with NASA, so obviously we have a whole lot in common.
Afterwards, we sat for a few minutes and talked about teaching children and what a sacred trust and responsibility it is. We agreed that subjects like math and reading are the least important things that are learned in a classroom. We talked about shaping little hearts to become contributors to a larger  community – and we discussed our mutual dream that those communities might be made up of individuals who are Kind and Brave above all.
And then she told me this.
Ever Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.
And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.
Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who doesn’t even know who to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?
You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.
As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children – I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of her eyeshot –  and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.
As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea – I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.
Ever since Columbine, she said.  Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine.
This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that ALL VIOLENCE BEGINS WITH DISCONNECTION. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy KNOWING that children who aren’t being noticed will eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.
And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often, and with the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11 year old hands  - is SAVING LIVES. I am convinced of it. She is saving lives.
And what this mathematician has learned while using this system is something she really already knew: that everything – even love, even belonging – has a pattern to it. And she finds those patterns through those lists – she breaks the codes of disconnection. And then she gets lonely kids the help they need. It’s math to her. It’s MATH.
All is love- even math.  Amazing.
Chase’s teacher retires this year –  after decades of saving lives. What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness. Stepping in, every single day-  and altering the trajectory of our world.
TEACH ON.  You are the first responders, the front line, the disconnection detectives, and the best and ONLY hope we’ve got for a better world. What you do in those classrooms when no one  is watching-  it’s our best hope.
Teachers- you’ve got a million parents behind you whispering together: “We don’t care about the standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind. And we thank you. We thank you for saving lives.”
Love – All of Us
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
This is a beautiful story that points out just one more thing that great teachers do that cannot be measured by any test or formal evaluation system. -
And now information:
ASSESSMENTS-March will bring with it the next round of state assessments.  PSSAs are given in March and the KEYSTONES will be given in May for Algebra 1, Biology and Literature.  We take these very seriously because the districts are now evaluated on each building’s scores on these assessments, attendance, PVAAS growth and other multiple measures.  This is called the SPP (School Performance Profile) score and can be viewed from our webpage under the Performance Profile link.  You can get an in-depth view of the scores and the calculations and also compare us to other schools.  If you have any questions, please call my office 781-2110 and I would be happy to meet with you to inform you how we are adapting our curriculum to improve those scores.
 I know these scores are extremely important,  but also  stand proud of the well-rounded education and love that our students receive here in this district.
BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS-As you may have read in the newspapers the St. Marys Area School Board has approved the spending down of the Capital Improvement Fund to complete additional projects on our facilities. They have agreed to spend $4 million dollars beginning with the replacement of a new fire-alarm system at the High School.  These expenditures will NOT raise taxes.  These funds have been built up in order to improve and maintain safe schools for our students.  Once again, please call if you have questions or concerns.
It is important to keep a good attitude and be slow to judge.
I can’t embed videos in my blog without paying a fee so just copy and paste the address into your search engine.  It will be well worth your time.
Watch this video and look inside the hearts of others:
Have a great month of love and happiness.  I LOVE PUBLIC EDUCATION!
Mrs. Kearney

January 2014

January 2, 2014 by smasd

Happy New Year!

Before the holiday break there were lots of holiday concerts and programs in all five of our school buildings.  I was able to get around to a couple of the evening presentations and was very impressed with our music programs and how the students take their commitment to the arts so seriously.  We are one of the school districts that continue to support the extracurricular activities because of the school board commitment to a well rounded education for all students.  We can’t forget the dedicated music faculty in the district either.  At each concert they are there helping each other with their commitment to excellence.  We also take pride in the advancement of many of our music students to participate in national shows and go on to be members of the United States Marine Band.

I hope that all of you enjoyed a restful holiday season with family.  Thanks to all who sent emails and cards our way.  It is wonderful to hear about the good things happening in the district and how much it is appreciated.  We also appreciate those emails and notes of concern and suggestions for improvements.

As we enter the last few weeks of the first semester we also enter into the flu season and wicked Pa winter weather.

We are starting this new calendar year with some nasty PA weather.  Today, January 2nd presented us with some snow covered roads and progressively slippery roads.  The safety of the children is first and foremost.  When weather turns worse during the day, consideration is given to working parents and the chance of sending children home to empty homes.

The procedures for closures and delays are as follows:


The St. Marys Area School District recognizes that as we work to assure the safety of all of our students and staff, inclement weather can cause road conditions to be hazardous. Schools may open late, close early, or close for the entire day depending upon the severity of the weather.  The decision to close or modify the school day is a very important one and is not made lightly.  School emergency closings usually happen during inclement weather but could happen at any time of the year.

Parents need to arrange plans with their children (and a neighbor, childcare, employer, etc.) on what is expected should an emergency closing occur.  Decisions to close or modify the school day are always a judgment call, however, the following information is provided to help parents understand how the St. Marys Area School District determines to cancel or modify the school day because of inclement weather.

  • Conditions of roads and the ability of school buses to travel safely
  • Condition of utility services such as electricity, gas and water
  • Condition of students who may be adversely affected by emergency closures such as being home alone when guardians are at work

How is the decision made to close schools?

A decision to close or modify the day must be made by 6:00 a.m. (or earlier if possible) after a careful analysis of all relevant information.  This is the time many buses depart from bus depots to begin transportation runs.  The procedures for closing school for inclement weather are based on the assessment of many factors before the light of day.  Some factors that are taken into consideration include:

  • Road Conditions – Bus contractors evaluate the condition of roads around 5:00 a.m. to determine the degree of road safety.  Generally, snow is not a primary reason for closing school.  As long as roads are not drifting shut, it is possible to have school, even with a sizable snowfall.
  • After bus contractors alert the district of road conditions, the district may contact PennDOT, and the city and townships to determine if roadways will be ready prior to 6:00 a.m.
  • At times, the Elk County Emergency Management and the state or city police are contacted for information on road closings, floods and other situations that may affect transportation.
  • Local scanners are monitored for warnings of adverse conditions such as major accidents that could cause long-term road closures.
  • Weather forecasts are monitored.  School is rarely canceled based solely on a prediction.  Weather events must be occurring and deteriorating for school to be cancelled.
  • Wind chill and air temperature are also taken into consideration.  In most situations, if air temperature is 0 degrees to –10 degrees with a slight to moderate wind chill, we will likely have school.  If temperatures are between   –11 degrees and –19 degrees, the wind chill, weather predictions and road conditions will be evaluated to determine if it is feasible to have school.  When air temperatures are –20 degrees, regardless of wind chill, there will be consideration for school to be cancelled or delayed.
  • Neighbor school districts within Elk County are consulted.

On days when conditions at 5:45 a.m. are not severe enough to cancel school, but weather reports or other indications suggest hazardous conditions my develop during morning transportation or during the school hours, bus drivers will be notified that it is a “storm alert” day. A storm alert indicates that drivers should be aware that extra caution should be exercised and to use their judgment if a portion of the route is not possible to complete.  Drivers are instructed to inform the district of the roadways where transportation was not completed so the district may either provide alternate transportation with a four-wheel drive vehicle or provide excused absences to those who were not in attendance for the day.

Will We Close School if Conditions Worsen?

It is difficult to reverse the decision about opening schools without endangering students, even if weather conditions worsen. Once the decision is made to open the schools, parents rely on it and leave for work. Many students will return from unsupervised bus stops and to empty houses if students are sent right back home. An early dismissal could occur if conditions worsen during the school day, but all possible attempts will be made to give adequate notice to parents first.

Although the district staff does our absolute best through this process, no perfect decision exists. If you do not feel as though it is safe for your child to attend school, we advise you to use your best judgment on whether he or she should attend. Also, we  would advise parents to discourage teenagers from driving in bad conditions and offer them alternatives if weather conditions worsen.

How is the Public Notified?

Information on school closings, delayed openings, or early dismissals due to inclement weather and other emergencies will be announced via the following sources:

We Call You:

St. Marys Area School District utilizes an automated emergency text/email notification system that allows school district administrators the ability to distribute a message to the cell phones and/or computers of all students within a very short time.  You may register on our district webpage, http://www.smasd.org, by selecting the ECS – Parents link on the left side of the district home page.

In the event that you do not receive a phone call from the emergency system, please contact Ginger Williams by email [email protected]  and let her know.  In the email please submit your cell phone number and cell service provider and/or your email address. The system is not based in the district and is subject to a variety of limitations that are beyond the control of district personnel.

Please be sure to notify your child’s school about changes to your home, cell, and work numbers.

You Call Us:

Parents may call the district’s emergency number 834-8746. Any messages about weather-related closures, late openings, or early dismissals will be heard at this number.

School District Website:

In the event of a weather-related problem or other emergency, parents can also check the St. Marys Area School District website (www.smasd.org) for a special message on the home page. If there is a school closure, late opening, or early dismissal, a message will appear on the webpage.

Television/Radio Stations:
St. Marys Area School District
Information about school closings, delayed openings, or early dismissals due to inclement weather and other emergencies will be announced via the following sources:

Television Stations:

WJAC-TV   Johnstown
WTAJ-TV   Altoona
WPSU   Clearfield/State College
WWCP-FOX 8 and ABC 23   Altoona/Johnstown

Radio Stations:

WKBI/W94FM   St. Marys
WDDH   St. Marys
WLEM   Emporium
WLMI   Kane
WCED   DuBois
WDSN               DuBois
WOKW   Clearfield
WPSU-FM   Clearfield
WMKX/WJNG   Brookville/Johnsonburg
WPXZ/WECZ/KOOL   Punxsutawney

It is hoped that this explanation helps everyone understand the process that our district staff uses to make the best possible decision for everyone in our district.


December 1, 2013 by smasd

Welcome to DECEMBER.

Today is the beginning of December, 2013 and once again I am amazed at how quickly time passes.  We are already entering into the last few weeks of the second quarter of the grading period for this school year.  All administrators, faculty and support staff are working diligently to take a look at the data from assessments, observations and school work to determine how to help each of our students…your children.  This could be misconstrued as “efforts to pass the test, raise the scores.”  What it really is …it is an opportunity  to review information to make sure we are helping each child in the area where they may struggle, praise them for what they do well and help them to grow academically.


Our first full Comprehensive Plan Meeting was held on Monday, November 25th in the SMAHS library.  There was an excellent turn-out and we are now working toward replacing our Strategic Plan with a new Comprehensive Plan that will lead us through the next three years.  There used to be 6 plans that the state required as part of the Strategic Plan and now they have integrated those plans into one.  The main items in this plan will include coverage from Chapter 4, Chapter 12, Chapter 14, Chapter 16 and Chapter 49.  Those are all legislated into school mandates and can be found on the PDE site.    The plan covers the standards (now the PA CORE), Special Education, Student Services, Gifted and the Certification requirements to name a few.  This process will take the entire year and will be on the board agenda for approval in late Fall 2014.  Stay tuned for more information.


We are fortunate to be welcoming three new board members to the SMASD Board of Directors.  On December 5th, these community members will be sworn into the oath of office of a school board member.  This is an unpaid position that is service oriented to help govern the public school.

Dr. Clythera Hornung, Mr. Robert (Bert) Sorg, Mrs. Stacy McKee are the new members.  Bryan Chiappelli and Matt Quisenberry are members who have been renewed as members.  We still have Robert Luchini, Charles Liptak, Patricia Rezmerski, and John Mulcahy.  If you see any of these community members be sure and thank them for their service to the community.


The IRRC board approved Chapter 4 regulations that all students in the graduation year of 2017 must pass the three KEYSTONE exams.  The three are Algebra 1, Biology and Literature.  These are three exams that have been given in many other states and allows students to learn material at a rigorous level of understanding in each of the content areas.  If we take the material that we teach and bring it to the level of understanding for the “real” world, students will see value in what they need to know and understand.  Let’s all work together to help each child be successful.  Thanks for your support.

Tis the season to be jolly…

The season of giving is upon us and giving a wrapped gift is not always the best gift.  Reading a story to your child, checking their homework, sitting down to talk to them about the importance of hard work and effort in all that they do are sometimes the BEST GIFTS you can give.  I grew up without many advantages but my mother always gave me the gift of caring that I worked hard and did my very best.  There isn’t a greater gift you can give your children.

Live for Something . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Chalmers

Remember our military this Christmas    “Live for something. Do good, and leave behind you a monument of virtue that the storm of time can never destroy. Write your name in kindness, love, and mercy, on the hearts of thousands you come in contact with year by year; you will never be forgotten. No, your name, your deeds, will be as legible on the hearts you leave behind as the stars on the brow of evening. Good deeds will shine as the stars of heaven.”


It’s not the things we get but the hearts we touch that will determine our success in life.
~Mac Anderson



Ann Kearney


November 2013

October 31, 2013 by smasd

Hello everyone.  The first quarter of the school year has been completed and report cards went home.  This is the time that you can make those changes to help your student(s) succeed.  Check their grades on their report cards and then make sure you are looking on PowerSchool for their assignments, attendance, etc.  Working together with the school and keeping a positive attitude can help your child(ren).

November and December are months that seem to fly by.  They are short on school days due to the holidays that are within these months and favorites of the students who get days off to sleep in on cold winter days.  This time of the year is a great time to teach our children to have  grateful and giving hearts which are themes of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  There is so much negativity that surrounds us all in the media reports that are everywhere…TV, radio, Internet, social media, texting, newspapers and sometimes in our conversations.  It is our responsibility to direct students toward a positive attitude and to help them develop resiliency and to have HOPE.  I use that as an acronym…HAVE ONLY POSITIVE EXPECTATIONS.  It keeps a focus on something better than the doom and gloom of the ever increasing negative media coverage.

Oh there may be some of you reading this and saying, “Easy for her to say this because she has it all.”  I can assure you that I know for a fact in my own personal growth coming from a large family that having a positive attitude and keeping HOPE in your life is the way we should all live.  I also can write this post and assure you that I know for a FACT that raising children is the most rewarding and indeed the toughest job that we will ever have in life.  The roller coaster ride of parenting can certainly have its twists and turns and ups and downs but given another opportunity, we would all get on that ride again and again because of the love we have for our children.  This is what I love to see when I meet with parents.  I have never met a parent who doesn’t love their child(ren).

Keep the bigger picture in mind and know that all the positive efforts that you engage in and the collaboration with the schools is well worth it in helping develop your child(ren) into solid American citizens.  Let’s work together and make public education the best it can be and have it be a positive experience for all.

The school district starts at Kindergarten promoting kindness through programs like SOUTH has in place, “Be a Bucket Filler” and at BV and FOX where they promote the PRIDE program.  The MS has the Respect, Responsibility and Effort motto and the HS has the motto, “Respect, Honor and Potential.”  These are all things that families should be promoting as well.  Through hard work and support our students (your children) can indeed find successes in school and out.

Let’s enter these next two months with joined efforts to assist all of our students in having the opportunities and the conversations on how to be grateful and giving and find numerous areas of success in making this a better school, community, state and country.  You can and do make a difference!  Let’s have HOPE.

You can click on the link below to see how our schools are doing.  The PA PERFORMANCE PROFILE is the state’s way of “grading” public schools.  Feel free to click on the link and review all the data.  If you have any questions, call your building principal and/or guidance counselor.  You may also call me as well.  We are utilizing this data to make improvements in the academics of our schools and to include these goals in our new Comprehensive Plan that is required by the state.

How are our schools doing?

Thank you.

Happy Holidays.

Mrs. Kearney

October 2013

October 1, 2013 by smasd

October is here and we are well in the swing of the 2013-14 school year.  September was certainly a very beautiful month and so much has been happening in our district buildings.

It was a concern on how the construction on Route #255 was going to slow down our transportation, but with the wonderful cooperation of PennDot we were able, under the expert direction of Mrs. Ginger Williams, Assistant Business Manager (who is also in charge of Transportation for the district) get through the month without too many delays.  A huge thank you for everyone’s patience during this road construction.  It certainly is beautiful and a much needed replacement of this highway.

As we move toward the last half of the first quarter of the school year we can rest assured that everyone is working hard to make our schools successful in all areas.  The great news is that our school/home cooperation is excellent and we can’t thank parents/students/teachers enough for that improvement.  With the POWERSCHOOL connection, parents have the ability to check on their student’s attendance, grades and discipline.  The up to date information is valuable for parents to track their students’ progress.

Schools across Pennsylvania will soon have a PA PERFORMANCE PROFILE SCORE released for public viewing.  The district has been very busy verifying data from all the collections that are mandated by the PDE officials.  These include the demographics which covers enrollment, attendance, graduation rate, scores on the PSSA and KEYSTONES, PVAAS (academic growth) data, SATs, ACTs, course offerings (AP and Dual Enrollment), pass rates and so much more.  This score is on a scale of 0-100 and will be used as the score for the WAIVER that the Federal Government permitted Pennsylvania to use in place of the AYP score which was a requirement of the NCLB (No Child Left Behind-formerly the ESEA)  This score is to be released on Friday, October 4th unless PDE changes the release date as they have done so at least two times thus far.

The St. Marys Area School District takes all of these mandates very seriously, but want the public to know that we are working toward molding well rounded young citizens with opportunities to excel in all areas and not just the “test.”  A variety of things in the district help to make this possible.  The continuation of guidance counselors at all levels, art, music and physical education at all levels, extra-curricular activities at all levels and highly qualified teachers and support staff to assist in remediation areas.   When the first PSSA scores were released in the early 2000s the district was in the area of 40-50% in math and reading.  These scores consistently increased as we were able to modify the curriculum to match the released standards and anchors.  Now the state has changed to the PA Core Standards which change what our curriculum changes were in the past 14 years.  We will continue to analyze and review the necessary changes and move toward a rigorous and meaningful curriculum at all levels.

If you have any concerns about issues in the district, never hesitate to call and discuss them with me.  If you would like to meet and discuss, I will be more than happy to meet with you at any time.  The goal of our district is to offer all children the necessary courses and support to empower him/her to reach their full potential.

Thank you.

Enjoy the Fall!