Catholic educators win state awards

Wednesday, June 05, 2019 - Updated: 1:34 pm

By Bob De Witt Correspondent

Two veteran Catholic educators from the Pittsburgh area were honored with statewide awards for their dedication and achievements as they demonstrated the vital role of private schools in changing the lives of students.

The Pennsylvania Council on American Private Education recognized Mary Claire Kasunic, president of Oakland Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, and Donald Militzer Jr., principal of St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin School in Whitehall.

Kasunic received the 2019 secondary education administrator award and Militzer was presented with the early childhood and elementary administrator award at a ceremony May 7 in Harrisburg.

“I am truly happy for Oakland Catholic High School,” said Kasunic, who spent 22 years teaching French and Spanish at the school and recently completed her fifth year as president. “This honor recognizes that this is a school of excellence at all levels in our mission of spirituality, scholarship and service.”

Militzer, who comes from a family of educators, said he was humbled and overwhelmed to receive his award, adding that it reflected the hard work of the entire team at St. Gabriel School.

“A Catholic school is a beacon of hope, a place where you can talk openly about God, acceptance and caring for one another in building a family atmosphere,” he said.

As president, Kasunic oversees Oakland Catholic’s long-term vision and strategic planning, as well as admissions and financial aid, marketing and public relations, building and grounds, finances and fundraising.

Under her leadership, the high school has expanded its STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), renovated and upgraded classroom technology and IT infrastructure, and established a Global Competence Initiative certificate program to educate leaders with a global focus.

“Education is about improving yourself,” Kasunic said. “Catholic education provides a reason to do so — to give back and help improve the world.”

Militzer ­— whose mother Cathy is a principal and whose great-grandmother, grandmother, aunt and cousins worked in education — has 14 years’ experience in teaching and school administration. He previously served as principal of Madonna Catholic Regional School in Monongahela, vice principal of St. Thomas More School in Bethel Park, and taught at St. Thomas More, SS. Simon and Jude School in Scott Township and St. Gabriel.

“I’m proud of our students’ service,” he said. “We try to instill in them the importance of taking care of one another.”

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