Diane Kirk, a recently retired Clinical Associate Professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Education, knows what it takes to be an advocate for public education and an effective educational leader.
Kirk, who earned her Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Pittsburgh, was selected as the recipient of the 2022 Educational Excellence Award from the Pennsylvania Principals Association.
This annual award is given to individuals who have made significant contributions to educational excellence in the Pennsylvania commonwealth’s elementary and secondary schools. Kirk was honored at the PA Principals Association’s LEAD22 Conference at the Kalahari Poconos Resort on October 16, 2022.
“I was really surprised, because I didn’t know that I had been nominated,” says Kirk. “I’ve prepared many principals and superintendents and work with so many school leaders, so it’s an honor that I would be nominated and be selected for this award.”
Carol Sprinker (EdD ‘19) nominated Kirk for the award.
In her 50-year career in education, Kirk held many roles as an educator. From being a superintendent at Peters Township School District, located in Washington County, to an associate professor at Pitt Education, Kirk experienced many challenges. Yet, she sees this award as a way of celebrating not only her career but also her past student’s careers in education.
In her time at Pitt Education, Kirk was part of the education and school leadership faculty. She helped train many educators to become principals and superintendents in K-12 districts across Western Pennsylvania.
“Right now, to be a school principal is very, very challenging,” explains Kirk. “They’re dealing with the issue of transitioning kids back to school, having the achievement drop, mental health, and so much more. I have such high respect for them and this award celebrates these individuals who are trying to manage these very challenging jobs.”
Kirk says the education leadership courses at Pitt Education prepare educators to take on these types of challenges.
“The students whom I’ve had the opportunity to work with are well prepared when they are done with their program,” says Kirk. “I have been fortunate that my students get placed with quality internships, they know how to work hard, they have good writing skills, and they understand the challenges that they will have as they get into a principal or superintendent position.”
Kirk feels a sense of pride watching her past students become educational leaders .
“It’s been a pleasure and an honor for me to be able to watch these people come in as students to get their certification and grow in the field and become school leaders,” says Kirk. “People that select Pitt Education know they’re going to be challenged and know they’re going to learn so much from their process.”
Learn more about Pitt Education’s Education and School Leadership programs today!