Over the course of his 16 years in the Steel Valley School District, Bryan Macuga has held just about every possible title. He started as a science teacher in the middle school, moved on to become principal at Park Elementary, then principal at the high school, followed by principal at the middle school and finally secondary campus principal before moving into his new role as assistant superintendent.
“It's a huge value to what I'm doing now, because I've established relationships with people - from teachers, to community members, to parents, to students, to past students,” Mr. Macuga said.
In fact, he recently spoke with a former student who was now bringing a child of her own to kindergarten at Barrett.
“So, it's coming full circle,” Mr. Macuga said.
Mr. Macuga arrived at Steel Valley in 2005 after spending two years in his hometown district at West Jefferson Hills. A graduate of Saint Vincent College who earned his master's degree, principal certification and superintendent letter of eligibility at California University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Macuga noticed Steel Valley’s sense of community immediately.
“Everyone cared about each other. Everyone was welcoming,” he said. “It was like a family-oriented atmosphere. And that really was very evident for me from the beginning.”
The new position as assistant superintendent will allow Mr. Macuga to be actively involved with every school building in the district.
“For the last 10 years, I've been primarily focused on the secondary campus,” he said. “And now this gives me an opportunity to get reacclimated to the elementary schools, to meet new students that are coming in and just continue to develop those relationships.”
He’ll offer support to the building principals, but his primary focus is enhancing Steel Valley’s academics. That includes establishing a cohesive curriculum at Barrett Elementary and Park Elementary Schools.
“I'm working very closely with Dr. Tom Shaughnessy and Mr. Kevin Walsh, to make certain that our academics are aligned. We’re going to begin at the elementary level and then transition that up into the secondary level,” Mr. Macuga said. “You have to have the ground roots, the foundations set at the elementary level before you progress any further and that's what we're looking to do.”
Another key component that Mr. Macuga is working to implement is a multi-tiered system of supports, or MTSS. The approach looks like a pyramid or triangle – all students are part of tier one, where they receive the same type of instruction and curriculum. If a student isn’t achieving at the level they need to at tier one, they get bumped to tier two, which includes a different level of support.
“Hopefully, at tier two, they're able to get the support they need to be successful,” Mr. Macuga said. “If not, then they come up to tier three, which is really a high level of support that you're providing the student to hopefully meet their needs at that level. That's what I really wanted to try to establish within our schools. If we can do that, that's going to be very, very beneficial for us moving forward.”
These are not overnight changes. It’ll take time, but Mr. Macuga believes the district can do it.
“I firmly believe in everything Steel Valley,” Mr. Macuga said. “I think being here for such a long duration proves that.”