Dr. Melissa Friez was named superintendent of the Mt. Lebanon School District in May, and started work in July. She comes from the North Allegheny School District, where she was superintendent for the past two years. Friez also has administrative experience with the Pittsburgh Public School District, where she served as assistant superintendent of student support services and an assistant superintendent of instructional leadership. She holds a doctorate in administrative and policy studies from the University of Pittsburgh, a master’s degree in secondary English education from Duquesne University, and K-12 principal certification from Carlow University. Friez earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature and psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Brandon, and they live in Squirrel Hill with teenage sons Brandon and Alex and dog Hamilton. Her family loves to travel in their free time.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I would describe my leadership style as coaching. Traditionally, educational leadership has been a one-way communication—a person in authority communicating objectives for others to carry out. Coaching allows for communication with a dialogue. This style also allows a leader to nurture and coach those who work alongside them to ensure the best possible outcomes for their students. The ultimate goal of coaching is to improve team relationships and ensure everyone understands that their strengths are valued and needed for the team to be successful. I also believe that as a superintendent I can learn a lot from those who work with me. I prefer opportunities to gather feedback on my practice and make necessary adjustments to meet the needs of those I serve.
What are the challenges you see on the horizon?
This early in my tenure, I believe it is too soon to focus on the challenges. I think it is more appropriate to focus on the opportunities. Mt. Lebanon is fortunate to have a staff and community that is fully committed to excellence. I have not met one person who is not interested in working as a team to improve and build on the successes of our past, while forging a new future for the school district. Next year we will have the chance to create a new strategic plan collaboratively with our stakeholders. I look forward to the opportunity to learn more about the district this year and engage in the strategic planning process with our community in the fall of 2024.
What do you see as your No. 1 priority?
Students are the top priority in the Mt. Lebanon School District. Keeping students at the heart of everything we do is necessary to move our district forward. With that being said, putting students first also means ensuring our staff is supported so that they can do their job effectively each and every day. It also means engaging with parents and ensuring they know what is happening in the district and how they can advocate for their children. To ensure students are truly the number one priority, it takes all of us to work together to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students.