Hi! My name is Cheryl Patalano, and I am running for your Northgate School Board of Directors.
Running for office. Eek!
I remember voting years ago in odd year elections and seeing barely enough names on the ballot to fill the empty seats. ‘Why aren’t more people involved?’ I would think. But as time went on and after 2016 I began to ask myself, ‘Why aren’t you involved?’ I believe in the idea of public service and have wanted to serve, but the idea of campaigning made me break out in a cold sweat. It’s the campaigning that has always given me pause to throw my proverbial hat into the ring. I am a private, quiet, introspective person. If I asked you to place a sign in your yard, whether you said “yes” or “no” I would feel bad for a day or two about having bothered you.
So why put myself through this? Because as much I dislike the process, I want to do the work. Being on the School Board isn’t about me. It’s about us. Our community. Our schools and community are so intertwined that if you improve one, you improve the other. And while I love Northgate, there are things that need to be improved. And they can be! That’s what’s so exciting!
Seeing the District’s Strengths
When my daughter was in sixth grade we fell victim to the inevitable mantra that is so prevalent in our boroughs: “the elementary schools are wonderful, but the middle/high school? I wouldn’t send my kid there.” We had her take the Independent School Entrance Examination. She aced it. She had a shadow day at three private schools.
“Did you know what was going on in the classes? Were you able to keep up?” I would ask on the way home.
“Yep. They were doing pretty much the same thing we’re doing,” came her answer.
And as the acceptance letters arrived and the financial aid packages needed examining, it dawned on me. She was already getting the same education. How else would she have passed the ISEE? She had been attending Northgate since Kindergarten. She had come in second place in a math game at a private school using the education from her public school. And so we stayed and have not regretted it.
How’d we get here?
My husband John and I moved to Bellevue shortly after college in 2000. At the time, I had just been hired at WPXI, and we loved Bellevue’s walkability and proximity to Television Hill, Three Rivers Stadium (you read that right), and the Strip District. Then in 2005, we decided to move to the eastern part of the state. But we couldn’t stay away long. We came back to the Pittsburgh area in 2009, and with a toddler in tow and a baby on the way, we decided to come right back to Bellevue. Andrew Bayne Memorial Library and Park was a big part of the decision. In 2011, our daughter started Kindergarten at Bellevue Elementary with the wonderful Miss Anderson. We loved the school and community so much that in 2012 we bought our house that we still call home. Now AnnaJean is a freshman at Northgate High School and our son, Sylvan, is at Bellevue Elementary.
Northgate is Northgreat, and if you can see it, if you want someone to make it that way for all our students, I hope you’ll put your faith in me to work for you. And also maybe you can put a sign in your yard?