THE RENDELL administration is on the final lap, and last week one of its top officials announced he would be leaving. Secretary of Education Gerald L. Zahorchak, who has held his post for five years, was hired by the Allentown School Board to be superintendent of the district, the fourth largest in the state. Dr. Zahorchak, 52, will resign as secretary effective May 7 and will start his new job July 1. A successor has not been named. Before entering government, he was superintendent of the Greater Johnstown School District. Dr. Zahorchak leaves with a fine record of accomplishment, including helping to secure the first new school funding formula for the state in 20 years and the first-ever state funding for quality pre-K programs and full-day kindergarten. He also played a vital role in closing the failed Duquesne High School and transferring its students. Although his was often a thankless task, he performed it with a dedicated focus on helping children. Good luck to him.
GOOD WORKS are certainly not restricted to government. On Wednesday night at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland, a ceremony honored the 50 Jefferson Award winners for 2009, all of them civic-minded champions. (The Jefferson Awards for Public Service program is administered locally by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with sponsorship by Highmark, the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Heinz Endowments.) Out of seven finalists in this distinguished company, Mary Haith Savage was named the Most Outstanding Volunteer of the Year. Known as the "flower lady," the 70-something Ms. Savage beautifies Homewood, where she lives, by planting gardens. She is now in the running for a national Jefferson Award.
COMMUNITY service starts young for some. Julia Robb, a fifth-grade student from Carnegie Elementary School, was named recently by the AAA as a "National Safety Patroller of the Year," one of 10 across the country, for her dedication in protecting her fellow classmates. Her reward included a trip to Washington, D.C., where she attended a ceremony marking the 90th anniversary of the AAA School Safety Patrol program. Charles Tate, a fifth-grader from Meadville, received the highest School Safety Patrol honor, the AAA Lifesaving Medal.