As the 2017-2018 School Year comes to a close, Mars Area School District is saying goodbye to several retiring staff members:
Pam Best, Mars Area Elementary School heath & physical education teacher, is retiring after 31 years in the District.
Best, who holds a bachelor’s degree in health & physical education from Slippery Rock University, joined the District in 1987 as a health & physical education teacher at Adams Elementary School and Middlesex Elementary School, before moving to Mars Area Elementary School when the two schools were consolidated in 2004.
A Mars Area graduate, Best has served as a volleyball, baseball, track & field and softball coach in the District and is currently coach of the Mars Stars Jump Rope Team, which she founded in 2012. In her retirement, Best plans to travel, golf, and spend time with her great nephews.
Eileen Deklewa, Mars Area Elementary School and Mars Area Primary Center guidance counselor, is retiring after 21 years in the District.
Deklewa holds a master’s degree in school counseling (K-12) and a teaching certificate (K-8) from the University of Pittsburgh as well as a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University. She came to the District in 1997 as a guidance counselor at Mars Area Middle School, before becoming the guidance counselor for Grades K-4.
She previously served as a kindergarten teacher at the Carnegie Mellon University Children’s School and St. Edward’s Academy, both in Pittsburgh.
Marilyn Lapiska, Mars Area Elementary School fourth grade teacher, is retiring after 25 years in the District.
Lapiska holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a teaching certificate from Slippery Rock University. She has also completed graduate coursework at Indiana Wesleyan University and Gannon University.
She began her career at Mars Area as a substitute secretary/teacher assistant in 1993, became a teacher assistant at Adams Elementary School in 1994; then a fourth grade teacher at the school in 1998. In 1999, she became a District-level computer science teacher and returned to the position of fourth grade teacher at Mars Area Elementary School in 2011.
Ruth Mathison, Mars Area High School athletics secretary, is retiring after 29 years in the District.
Since joining the District in 1989, Mathison has also served as a library clerk and as a main office and attendance secretary.
Dana Petruska, Mars Area High School heath & physical education teacher, retired in January after 21 years in the District.
Petruska, who holds a bachelor’s degree in heath & physical education from the University of Pittsburgh, began teaching physical education at Mars Area in 1996. She previously served as a long-term substitute teacher within the District as well as a seventh/eighth grade basketball and varsity softball coach.
As the current head coach of Mars Area High School Girls Varsity Basketball, she led the team to win the 2017-2018 PIAA Class 5A Girls Varsity Basketball Championship Title, the first in school history. She was named the 2017-2018 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Girls Basketball Coach of the Year and Butler Eagle Girls Basketball Co-Coach of the Year.
During the 2016-2017 season, Petruska earned her 400th career win, a combined record that includes more than 290 wins she compiled as head coach of the Lady Planets from 1986 to 2005, then 2015 to present. In the interim, she earned 111 wins as a coach of Deer Lakes High School Girls Varsity Lady Lancers Basketball Team.
In her retirement, she plans to spend more time with her grandchildren.
Vicki Stenner, Mars Area Elementary School second grade teacher, is retiring after 23 years in the District.
Stenner, who holds a master’s degree in elementary education from Slippery Rock University and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and special education from Bowling Green State University, began teaching second grade at Mars Area in 1995. She began her teaching career in 1979 at schools in Ohio and Oklahoma, where she taught first, fifth and sixth grades as well as special education for seven years.
She and her husband live in Mars. The couple has three grown children, all Mars Area graduates.
In her retirement, Stenner hopes to travel to all seven continents as well as to spend more time with her grandchildren.
Robert Zaccari, Mars Area Elementary School principal, is retiring after 25 years in the District.
Zaccari holds a master’s degree in elementary education from Slippery Rock University, a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and an elementary principal certification from Westminster College.
He joined the District in 1993 as an assistant principal, then principal of Adams Elementary School and Middlesex Elementary School, before becoming principal of Mars Area Elementary School when the two schools were consolidated in 2004. He previously served as an elementary principal for one year at South Butler County School District, where he had also taught fourth grade.
Zaccari and his wife, Vickie, live in Valencia. The couple has two grown children, Adam and Kristen.
In his retirement, he hopes to travel, relax and spend more time with family.
For more information, call (724) 625-1518.