LEWISBURG — Recognition of distinguished individuals on the Thursday night agenda of the Lewisburg Area School District included honors for Kathy K. Swope.
Dr. Steven C. Skalka, superintendent, noted at the outset that it was Swope’s last meeting, her having served 20 years as a school director.
Skalka read a proclamation from Mayor Judy Wagner of Lewisburg, acknowledging Swope’s efforts. During five terms, Swope served 12 years as board president.
Service away from the district has included various posts with the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, including a term as PSBA board president.
Nathan G. Mains, PSBA executive director, noted Swope served the association at every level.
“(Swope) has been a tireless advocate,” he said. “She has testified before every possible group, served on every possible committee. Any time we’ve called she is ready to go. She just testified a couple of weeks ago down in Harrisburg.”
Mains noted that Swope would continue to serve as chair of the PSBA insurance trust.
Former Superintendent Dr. Mark DiRocco, with the district from 1995 to 2017, recalled Swope was instrumental in starting a parent group at the secondary level well before her first term on the school board.
“Back then, a lot of the parent groups would sent a rep to board meetings just so they knew what was going on and report back to the parent group,” he said. “Kathy was always one of the people at the board meetings. She got so interested in it, she decided to run for (the) board and became a board member. It wasn’t too long before even the board members decided there was something pretty special about this woman.”
DiRocco acknowledged Swope’s outlook in spite of contentious issues before the board and the community.
“Even in the most difficult times,” he noted. “Even when people weren’t so kind to her, she was always kind to them.”
DiRocco, now executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, maintained Swope was as well-respected across the state as she has been in Lewisburg. He said Swope’s dedication to the children was exemplary and her knack for suggesting new ideas was unique.
Other accolades included a symbolic “big check” from Bob Kallin, Green Dragon Foundation president. It was much like checks the foundation has raised for the district, except it was made out to Swope, with the word “priceless” listed as the amount.
Other presenters included Bob Brouse of the Lewisburg Area High School Alumni Association, Laurie Miller of the Lewisburg Area Education Association and Mary Brouse, also a long-serving director. Paula Reber, Lewisburg Area High School principal, recalled Swope’s support of Vision 2020, a strategic plan which included building a new high school.
Swope’s remarks to the gathering expressed a fondness for students, staff, board members and public education.
“It is through this incredible process of education that society and civilization itself continues,” Swope said. “It doesn’t get more important than keeping civilization going, right?”
Swope closed by expressing love and respect for administrators and hard-working teachers. She indicated her work to support public education would continue.