Prime Profiles: Meet Sun Valley's new Assistant Principal
The new Sun Valley Assistant principal, Joseph Peleckis, took an indirect path toward his position in Aston, PA. A product of Massachusetts public schools, Peleckis studied Computer Science and the History & Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, landing for several years in software development, graphic design, and publishing.
“I was a software developer in Boston during the 1990’s dotcom boom,” he remembers, “and I realized it wasn’t for me, sitting in front of the computer all day writing code. I explored geographically and professionally writing, design, publishing --but I wanted to do more.”
Finding a path to education
That “something more” inched him closer to education. He moved on to the publishing department of the Educational Testing Service (ETS), then had the conversation that drove him down the path toward teaching. “(My future wife Amy and I) were talking about teaching, and I realized I remembered every single name of my teachers. I had just amazing teachers. Mine really made an impact.”
Inspired by the memory of those experiences, Peleckis discovered an emergency certification opportunity in Philadelphia. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree could earn a certification and be hired in the district. Soon he enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, eventually teaching Mathematics at Roxborough High School. He stayed for six years. “I loved it,” Peleckis remembers. “It turned me upside down. It was the most difficult, challenging, but fulfilling job I’d had as an adult for sure.”
While teaching, he was fortunate to experience further mentoring from excellent administrators who encouraged him to continue his growth.
“As an educator, you are always getting more educated. And I had a mentor, Cathy Rex, who encouraged me to pursue educational leadership.” Another administrator, Florence Johnson (“a dynamo, I aspire to be like her”, he said), made an impact as well. He committed to a leadership program at St. Joseph University.
“It was a bumpy road. I continued to teach as I got my masters. And just a few classes away from my degree, my wife and I had twin daughters.”
As his wife was working as a Nurse Practitioner, they decided he would step into a new role: stay-at-home dad to his two daughters: Reese and Jojo.
“I was home one full year full time,” remembers Peleckis. “I am psyched that I got to spend time with them as infants and toddlers. It was huge.”
Peleckis continued to hone his craft as an educator while being a stay-at-home dad. “I was tutoring and substitute teaching, and became a math specialist. I got such a deeper, richer understanding of math from teaching students in private and public schools on the main line and in the Philadelphia area. The students challenged me. Their teachers challenged me. It helped me as a tutor and a teacher to struggle and to help students as they struggled.”
Peleckis returned to teaching full-time as a long-term substitute in the Central Bucks School District before joining the faculty at Penncrest High School where he taught for five years. While teaching and tutoring, Peleckis also cultivated his passion for developing student leaders and implementing Chess as an extracurricular activity. He served as a chess coach, class sponsor, honor society sponsor, instructional technology coordinator, and in various leadership roles.
“Penncrest made me step up my game in teaching. I was teaching some of the more reluctant learners Algebra I and Geometry while being the faculty sponsor of the math honor society (Mu Alpha Theta)—the math super stars. I worked toward closing the achievement gap. I was able to bring both groups together through tutoring.”
With the encouragement of supportive administrators, Peleckis decided to explore leadership. He became an Assistant Principal at the Coatesville Area Senior High School where he worked for the past three years. While serving in this role, Peleckis also became an instructor in Youth Mental Health First Aid, a passion for him.
“I think is it helpful when the folks experiencing mental health issues and the folks that can help have a better understanding of what they can do,” he explains. “We need to have an army of listeners out there.” And that can start in the classroom. “This will sound cliché,” says Peleckis, “but content is secondary to having caring relationships. Kids don’t care about what you’re teaching until they know you care about them as humans.”
Peleckis is incredibly excited to join the Penn Delco family and to take on a leadership role at Sun Valley High School. He is ready to meet, work with, and earn the trust of students, faculty, staff, and community.
“I’m learning about all of the amazing things that are happening at Sun Valley while also looking out for the potential to make the High School and the Penn Delco School District even better.”
Sun Valley benefits
Principal Patrick Sasse believes Peleckis is the perfect choice for his already formidable team: “Peleckis brings strong experience that will translate to effective service of our students, parents, and community. He’s a friendly, creative, and hard-working professional who will enhance the academic and social reputation of Sun Valley.”
Superintendent Dr. George Steinhoff, too, is glad to bring Peleckis on board. “The interview committee was instantly impressed with his personability and very evident student-first mentality. His prior experience as an assistant high school principal, combined with his specific curriculum skills in math, computer science, and technology, is an instant net positive for the leadership team at the Valley.”
While Peleckis brings a wealth of talent to the high school is clear, it is his passion for students and teaching, particularly in public schools, that will benefit the entire district.
“I always go back to the amazing experience I had in school. To just give back in the way that I received -- I could never do that entirely. I believe in public schools. I am a product of public schools.”