Local Educational Leaders Honored by Western PA Superintendent’s Forum

The Forum for Western Pennsylvania School Superintendents at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education has selected two educational leaders as the recipients of the 2022 Voice of Advocacy Award: Barbara Bolas, member of the Upper St. Clair Township Board of School Directors, and Maureen Frew, digital media specialist at Avonworth School District.

Established in 2012, the Voice of Advocacy Award acknowledges exceptional leadership and advocacy by practicing administrators and educators, retired administrators and educators, and higher education faculty.

Bolas began her career as a teacher and has since fostered a long history of service to public education at the local, state, and national levels. She has been an Upper St. Clair Township school board member since 1985, and has served multiple terms as board president and vice president.

“I strongly believe service on a local school board demonstrates to our children and youth how democracy works,” says Bolas. “A school board represents the whole community and is a key conduit through which the community and its residents have a voice. Building trust in the management of our schools makes for a stronger community, stronger families, and better students.”

“Mrs. Bolas is being honored for her extensive service to public education,” says Tom Ralston, director of the superintendent’s forum. “She has been a school board member for over 30 years and also served as the president of the Upper St. Clair School District, as well as the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and the National School Boards Association. She has also served on several important state committees that have provided unique opportunities to students.”

“I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award from a dedicated group of school leaders who advocate every day for exceptional teaching and learning experiences for the children and youth in our Pennsylvania communities,” says Bolas.

As digital media specialist at Avonworth Primary Center, Frew seeks out ways to connect maker learning to the school’s curriculum and students’ passions. A veteran teacher with more than 20 years of teaching experience, she hopes to inspire her students with a sense of wonder, excitement, and curiosity. 

“I’m completely overwhelmed by this incredible honor,” says Frew. “It’s so important for me to be an advocate for children and youth. Children have so much to offer; they are capable of great things at very young ages. I have truly learned more from children than I ever thought possible. They are my guiding force.” 

Frew created an afterschool making club at Avonworth Primary Center that led to the #bethekindkid project, in which students make and sell items to benefit charity.

“The message of kindness, spread through the sale of #bethekindkid t-shirts and merchandise, has resulted in thousands of dollars of charitable donations,” says Ralston. “The message of #bethekindkid has spread throughout the region, nation, and world.”

Bolas and Frew will be recognized during the Spring Forum on April 27-29, 2022.

Forum on Learner-Centered Leadership

The forum is among the oldest regional superintendent forums in the nation. Comprised of 47 superintendents and intermediate unit directors, the organization is focused on advocacy for children and youth.

Members meet twice annually to examine important topics in educational leadership. At the Spring Forum taking place on April 27-29, 2022, members will examine the topic of “Learner-Centered Leadership.”

Conversations will include a focus on student mental health and how marginalized students have been particularly affected by the pandemic.

“The pandemic has accentuated the inequities that exist in the education system,” says Ralston. “While we recognize the current challenges, we also are aware that challenges present us with opportunities to evolve our systems of learning to ensure all students have access to a quality learning experience that connects them with their passion and purpose and prepares them for future success.”

Featured presenters include Katie Martin from Learner-Centered Collaborative and Michele de le Reza, Allison Popieski, and Hope Anthony from Attack Theatre.

Learn More

The Pitt School of Education offers Education and School Leadership programs, including the following: