Mover & Shaker of the Month: Kathy Fitzgerald

By Paula Green

          A long-time North Hills School District teacher was recently bestowed with a prestigious honor. Kathy Fitzgerald, a kindergarten teacher at Ross Elementary was the recipient of the “Be There Award” from the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania.  The award celebrates adults who go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of children and youth in Allegheny County by making sure they get what they need to thrive.

           Fitzgerald was thrilled to receive this award.  As she noted, “It was an amazing honor.  I was very surprised to be one of the four winners.  These finalists were wonderful people, all very selfless and dedicated to helping children.”

           Fitzgerald began her teaching career in the North Hills School District in Jan. 1977 at Seville Elementary where she taught second grade.  She also taught third, first and fourth grade at McIntyre Elementary.  She took an eight-year hiatus to raise her children.  In 1991, Fitzgerald returned to North Hills at Ross Elementary to the kindergarten position that she currently holds.

           She was nominated for the “Be There Award” by Ross Elementary guidance counselor Dawn McElhinney.  Fitzgerald was nominated for her unique, creative teaching approach.

         “At school, I tried to combine members of the community with the education program (garden center to help with an environmental classroom, firefighters, policemen, caterers, nurses, veterinarians). I encouraged the students to get involved in making a difference.  Many times, my classes would raise money to adopt an animal at the Pittsburgh Zoo.   One class even honored me with the purchase of a brick in my name at the zoo,” Fitzgerald remarked.

         “I have also served on the Teacher’s Board of Directors of the Discovery Room at the Carnegie Museum.  This board planned the activities in the Discovery Room to go along with the exhibits in the museum,” Fitzgerald added.

           She enjoys watching her students excel outside of the classroom as well.  “I spend time attending community events.  Both of my children attended North Hills School District and were very active in extracurricular activities.  We belonged to many parent groups and were always at North Hills events.  I also attend many events of the students in my class.   I love to go to their baseball games, wrestling matches, dance recitals, birthday parties and graduation parties of past students,” Fitzgerald said.

           Fitzgerald resides in the North Hills with her husband Tom.  They have two grown children, a daughter Amanda and son Ian.  Fitzgerald will be retiring at the end of this school year.  She plans to do volunteer work and take a well-deserved trip to the “Magic Kingdom.”