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Gerald Zahorchak M’88, Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Gerald Zahorchak M’88: 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Gerald Zahorchak is honored as a 2010 Distinguished Alumnus for his leadership in education and his lifelong passion for improving the lives of schoolchildren across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 9:00, 23.1 MB

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Gerald Zahorchak M'88

Gerald Zahorchak is honored as a 2010 Distinguished Alumnus for his leadership in education and his lifelong passion for improving the lives of schoolchildren across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Francis College, Dr. Zahorchak earned a Master of Education degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1988. He received a doctoral degree in Education Administration from Penn State. In, 2009, IUP awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree—an honor that has been bestowed on only fifty others in the university’s history.

Dr. Zahorchak’s career in education includes teaching experience in both elementary and secondary education, as well as teaching and leading in North Star, Shanksville–Stonycreek, and finally Greater Johnstown, where he held a series of increasingly responsible roles, ultimately serving as the district’s superintendent.

In 2003, Dr. Zahorchak was named deputy secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In this role, he launched the nationally recognized Project 720 and Classrooms for the Future. These high school reform efforts have been highlighted in publications such as Education Week and recognized by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Two years later, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell chose Dr. Zahorchak to serve as the state’s secretary of Education, a position he continues to hold today. In this role, he is responsible for the education of nearly two million school children across the commonwealth. As Pennsylvania’s chief state schools officer, he administers more than $9 billion annually to lead and serve the commonwealth’s educational community. He serves as the CEO of the state Board of Education, which sets and directs policy for elementary and secondary education, career and technical education, and postsecondary/higher education for Pennsylvania.

Dr. Zahorchak is a national educational leader on common core standards and implementing standards based education to improve student achievement. He cochairs the Next Generation Learners Committee of the Council of Chief State School Officers, creating a national framework and discussion in building systems of comprehensive support for all students. Under his direction, Pennsylvania has transformed schools, enabling more than three quarters of all students to demonstrate proficiency in reading and mathematics as compared to slightly more than a half in 2002. During his tenure, he has presided over unparalleled school funding increases to equalize the adequacy gap and provide funding to those with the greatest need.

A hallmark of Dr. Zahorchak’s distinguished career is the collaborative design among teachers, administrators, and educational associations, which he built across the Commonwealth as he facilitated the development of the Standards Aligned System (SAS) combining research and best practice to ensure student achievement.

Recently, he launched an educational portal to support the Standards Aligned System positioning unprecedented resources at the fingertips of Pennsylvania educators. SAS implementation is skyrocketing in just the few short months since the portal release in December 2009 and is expected to make a dramatic impact on twenty-first-century teaching and learning in Pennsylvania.

Recognizing that his vision of success for all children would not be met without focusing on quality teaching and effective leadership, Secretary Zahorchak worked collaboratively with school administrators to establish the Pennsylvania Inspired Leadership (PIL) Program. PIL is a standards-based statewide continuing professional education program that is focused on developing the knowledge and skills that school leaders need to improve student achievement.

Dr. Zahorchak has been widely published and is a frequent speaker at national educational conferences, symposia, and other forums and is a frequent guest on Pennsylvania public television and radio stations. Dr. Zahorchak’s dedication to his community goes beyond the classroom. He is the former deputy mayor of the City of Johnstown, a past eight-year member of Johnstown’s City Council, and a past member of the Greater Johnstown School Board. He actively serves in leading roles on many national and state boards committed to enhancing public and higher education.

Dr. Zahorchak continues to make his home in Johnstown.

Profile published on 5/11/10

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Jay Costa ’79
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Jeremy Critchfield '93
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Almar Latour '94
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Juan Carlos Salcedo ’77
Juan Carlos Salcedo is honored as a 2010 Distinguished Alumnus for his international business success and his commitment to building lasting relationships with his Chinese counterparts.
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Gerald Zahorchak M’88
Career in education includes teaching experience in both elementary and secondary education, as well as teaching and leading in North Star, Shanksville–Stonycreek, and finally Greater Johnstown, where he held a series of increasingly responsible roles, ultimately serving as the district’s superintendent.
 
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