“A safe place for everyone”

Dr. Tim Steinhauer retires after 14 years as superintendent of the school district.

The high school looks great, but that’s just a part of Dr. Tim Steinhauer’s legacy. After 14 years as school district superintendent, Steinhauer has retired, and was succeeded by Dr. Melissa Friez, former superintendent at
North Allegheny.

He leaves behind a three-year, $109.6 million high school renovation project and a district that routinely finds itself on Top 10 and Top 5 lists for academic, fine arts and athletic achievements, but the thing he would most like to be remembered for is making Mt. Lebanon School District a welcoming place.

“I’m proudest of making kids feel welcome and respected, regardless of who they are and how they identify,” he said. “I wanted to make a safe place for everyone.”

In addition to the mammoth high school project, the district upgraded athletic fields and replaced grass with turf, and it was on Steinhauer’s watch that all of the district’s buildings became air conditioned.

He credits his staff with much of the hard work that went into achieving and maintaining the district’s high standards.

“I was working with 10 labor organizations, and the relationship has always been positive,” said Steinhauer. We’ve had good union leadership, and that has helped us treat our people well.”

High on Steinhauer’s list of things to be proud of is the district’s commitment to fine and performing arts. With a degree in music education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Steinhauer began his career as an instrumental music director in the Conrad Weiser School District, near Reading, Pennsylvania, and Clearfield High School in Clearfield County, near Punxsutawney.

“That was what attracted us to Mt. Lebanon,” he said. “Both of my boys were involved in fine and performing arts, and they are both working in that field.”

Luke is an actor and teacher in New York City, and Nate is an architect in Charlotte, North Carolina.

One thing you won’t find at most other school districts: mindful meditation. In 2014, Steinhauer began a daily meditation session, which became the 10 for 11, 10 minutes of meditation every school day at 11 a.m.

“(Meditation) was helpful to myself, and I brought it into the district as just another tool, but it was one way to find some peace,” he said. “Lots of teachers and administrators liked the experiment.”

The meditation undoubtedly helped Steinhauer’s equilibrium when he was faced with trying to deliver education while keeping students and staff healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nobody knew what was going on,” he said, “and the information was changing all the time. We were trying to negotiate a world we’d never seen before. We negotiated the changes as skillfully as we could. We didn’t always all agree, but despite the sometimes contentious discussion, everyone was acting in good faith.”

Although his successor comes from the same school district—North Allegheny—as Steinhauer was recruited from, the two did not overlap there. He does, however, have some advice: “Bring your A game every day,” Steinhauer said. “This community has high expectations, and the school district’s brand is a great one. My priority was always to protect the brand.”

At 59, Steinhauer has more to do, but his time on Horsman Drive is the apex of his career.

“It was the privilege of a lifetime working here,” he said. “I have a lot ahead of me, but this was the pinnacle.”

Right now, he is just looking forward to a September free from the myriad tasks that come with opening 10 schools for business for another year.

“In the immediate future, I’m going to take some time off to regroup,” he said. He and his wife, Kim, are planning a move to the Main-Line community, and beyond that, “I’m just looking forward to doing nothing
for a while.”