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Maryvale school superintendent cites desire for more family time in decision to retire

After almost 40 years in education, Maryvale Superintendent Deborah Ziolkowski is stepping down to devote more attention to being a wife, mother and new grandmother.

During its meeting Monday night, the Board of Education approved Ziolkowski’s retirement request, effective Aug. 31.

Ziolkowski’s tenure as superintendent began in October 2009. She is in the second year of a five-year contract.

“My own family has sacrificed so much with this job,” she said of her husband, Paul; two children, Ben and Sarah; daughter-in-law, Dawn; and new grandson, William. “This position requires a 24/7, 365-day commitment.”

Her family has been supportive of her career, even when her school family had to come first, she said. This happened recently when a second-grader at Maryvale Primary, Odin Lucas, died in a tractor accident. She left family time to ensure that her students’ and staff’s needs were met.

“Family is the most important thing in life, and I have always told my staff and faculty that,” she said. “The decision to retire at this time is due to the fact that it’s time for my home family to come first, and I can’t do that while in this position. I am finally going to take that advice that I have often given to my staff; ‘Your family comes first.’ ”

Ziolkowski began her career in 1978 with Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services, instructing children with special needs for 22½ years. A good friend and mentor, the late Mike Kelly, convinced Ziolkowski to pursue work as an administrator, explaining that she could have a larger impact on children.

On Feb. 1, 2001, she started at Maryvale as principal of the intermediate school, remaining there until June 2007. She then was principal of the primary school for two years before becoming superintendent.

As the board reluctantly approved Ziolkowski’s retirement, Trustee Margaret J. Bourdette offered words of praise. Bourdette also knew the three superintendents who served before Ziolkowski. “You stand up there at the top with them all,” Bourdette said.

Board President Tammy McCarthy asked her colleagues whether the search for a successor should be local or national, and the consensus was that it should begin internally. McCarthy asked Assistant Superintendent Stephen J. Lunden to write a job notice for posting.