On the door of Sharon Suritsky’s office is a sign in bold, colored letters that reads: “We are all difference makers.”
“I truly believe that, and I witness it every day,” says Suritsky, assistant/deputy superintendent of the Upper St. Clair School District, located 15 miles south of Pittsburgh.
Upper St. Clair’s results — the district has six schools that serve 4,100 students — bear that out as well. All six have been recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools. Both middle schools are four-time recipients of the Pennsylvania Don Eichhorn Schools to Watch designation, and the high school was ranked 113th in the nation by Newsweek in 2016-17.
Suritsky, who is responsible for the development and management of the Upper St. Clair’s K-12 instructional program, has what she describes as a humble confidence, “the knowledge that I can accomplish anything I set my sights on, coupled with the awareness that I’m no better than anyone else.” She credits her mother, a single parent without a high school diploma and an uncle with multiple disabilities who lived with her family, as inspirations because they “truly valued” education and expected her to go to college.
Despite Upper St. Claire’s achievements, Suritsky is quick to quote Albert Einstein when asked to describe her approach to educating all children: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
“The real measurement of our success is the impact we have on our students, families, teachers, staff members, colleagues, and others. Test scores and accountability are important; but, at the end of the day, the impact the district has on people is what really matters,” she says. “Public education is a remarkable forum to be able to do this type of meaningful work.”