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Pl. Valley HS principal takes Towamensing job

Kelli George built a successful 27-year career as a teacher and administrator in Pleasant Valley School District, her alma mater. But when arguably the only job George could see herself leaving for came open in neighboring Palmerton Area School District, she knew she had to take the chance.

George was unanimously hired Tuesday night as Towamensing Elementary principal, taking over for Christine Steigerwalt, who is retiring at the end of June.

“I’ve been living in this community for 28 years since I married my husband and I’m very excited to be a Bomber,” George said. “Both of my boys went to Towamensing. One is now a police officer and the other is going to be a health and physical education teacher. I credit their success to Palmerton Area School District. It’s a wonderful place.”

Upon her release from Pleasant Valley, George will start at a $90,000 salary in Palmerton. She spent the last year as Pleasant Valley High School principal at a salary of $118,000. Before that, she was assistant high school principal from 2018-21, intermediate school dean of students from 2012-18, intermediate school sixth grade math specialist from 2006-12 and intermediate school sixth grade teacher from 1995-2006.

“It is emotional to leave a place you’ve been so long like Pleasant Valley,” George said. “It will always have a special place in my heart. Living in Towamensing though, I don’t feel like I’m going somewhere completely new. This is my home and I know a lot of the people. I’m a very upbeat person who loves to smile no matter what is going on and I look forward to carrying that over here.”

George said she knows she’ll have big shoes to fill when Steigerwalt, who spent 12 years as Towamensing’s principal, heads into retirement.

“She’s done an amazing job and I want to continue that atmosphere,” George said. “She has built strong relationships with the families, staff and community. I’m a firm believer that you don’t go in and make sweeping changes unless it’s a major safety concern. I’m very much a people person and I want to find out who my staff is and go from there.”

Dr. Jodi Frankelli, Palmerton superintendent, welcomed George to the district and thanked the interview team who helped move the process forward to Tuesday’s hiring.

“Our committee looked at the results of the survey we put out to our families and used those answers and comments when creating interview questions and selecting candidates,” Frankelli said.

“It was a very smooth process and we’re very happy to have Kelli coming on board.”

Kelli George was hired Tuesday night as Towamensing Elementary principal after 27 years as an educator and administrator in the Pleasant Valley School District. JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS