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She's a 'natural' for top school post

August 06, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff writer, Waynesboro

WARFORDSBURG, Pa. - This week Carolyn Shegelski became the first woman in the Tri-State Area to break through the chalk ceiling when she walked into the Southern Fulton School District superintendent's office and went to work.

Shegelski, 50, was hired earlier this summer to supervise the 900-student, two-school system at an annual salary of $68,000.

She assumed full-time duties Monday.

Shegelski succeeds Eugene Artman who held the job three years. He was being paid $63,000 when he left.

This is Shegelski's first superintendent's post. She comes to Fulton County from Monroe County in northeastern Pennsylvania, where she was supervisor of curriculum and instruction in the vocational education school which served four school districts.

"This job is similar, so the transition should be easy," she said.

There are 501 school districts in Pennsylvania, but women run fewer than 50 of them, she said.

"More women are moving into administrative positions. It's a natural kind of thing for women to get into. You'll be seeing more women as systems try for more balance. It works out well because some students relate better in some situations to female administrators," Shegelski said.

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In Washington County, Linda Barkdoll is serving as interim schools superintendent while a permanent successor is sought for former superintendent Wayne F. Gersen.

Monroe County is in one of the fastest-growing parts of the state with farmland being eaten up by development at an astounding rate, Shegelski said. Fifteen years ago, the school system there had 100 students per grade. Today it has 700, she said.

Fulton County is growing at a much slower pace, she said. "I find that most of the people moving here are retired, people who don't want to raise taxes. Parents with children in school will support the system," she said.

Shegelski said her main challenge will be to build on a system that she said already is good. "There's a real commitment to education in this county," she said.

She wants to improve computer technology by bringing in more units. "We're lacking, but we are moving forward," she said.

Southern Fulton will be on the Internet for the first time next month, a move that will require more computer training of teachers, she said. "We need to bring the system up to date," she said.

Shegelski said academics have to be beefed up. Students have to learn math and science and how to communicate to meet a more demanding job market. "They will have to learn to read and write," she said.

She said when the system's 55 teachers meet her for the first time they will see a superintendent with a very optimistic outlook who sets realistic goals.

Teachers return to school on Aug. 22. Students come back Aug. 25.

Her husband, Henry, is a certified public accountant in Monroe County. Shegelski said she will commute weekends until he moves to the area or other arrangements are made.

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