Diocese announces Semko as new education director

June 5, 2018 GMT

Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Bishop Mark L. Bartchak has announced the appointment of Jo-Ann Semko as director of the diocese education office.

The appointment is effective July 1. Semko is currently the assistant director of education for the diocese — a position she has held since 2014. She succeeds Sister Donna Marie Leiden, who is retiring after many years as a teacher, school administrator and director of education.

Semko graduated from Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Ebensburg and received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Saint Francis University in Loretto, and a master’s degree with a concentration in administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She has completed all course work in her pursuit of a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Penn State University.

Semko joined the education office after a nearly 35-year career as an elementary teacher in the Central Cambria School District.

“Jo-Ann is deeply committed to the Catholic identity and mission of our schools, and she intends to assist school administrators and teachers in making sure that the truth of our Catholic faith and the values of our Catholic schools remain a priority,” Bartchak said in a press release about the news.

Among Semko’s goals in the new post are building the Catholic community of Christ, upgrading curriculum to prepare students for careers that demand outcome over process and enhancing the Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math (STREAM) program, which is offered in all diocesan elementary schools.

“This is the goal I have been striving to achieve my entire life,” Semko said on her appointment. “It is a humbling experience. I look at myself as a servant-leader — one who serves not only God but all of the students in our schools, their families and our faculty.”

There are 14 elementary schools and four independent Catholic high schools in the diocese.

This academic year, 435 children are enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs, 2,414 students attend elementary school and 966 students are enrolled in secondary schools. Locally, St. Peter School is located in Somerset.