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Abdalla retiring from JVS position

SET TO RETIRE — Cecilia “Sis” Abdalla plans to retire after 29 years with the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School and a total of 45 years in education. While the coronavirus pandemic lessened her time with students, she bid them a warm farewell and success in their future. Her last official day is Aug. 1. -- Contributed

BLOOMINGDALE — Cecilia “Sis” Abdalla has been a mainstay at the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School, but on Aug. 1 she will begin a new chapter after 45 years as an educator.

School board members approved her resignation during the May 19 regular session and Abdalla will step down after 29 years of service at the JVS, most recently as supervisor/assistant principal.

“I just decided that it was time for me to retire. I think it was time for me to move on, slow down and to have more time to enjoy my family along with wanting to travel with my husband and also my family,” she explained. “You never know what could happen from one day to the next, so it was my time.”

However, the advent of the coronavirus and subsequent school shutdown has made her departure even more bittersweet because she and the students couldn’t be together one last time. She said the COVID-19 pandemic changed the end of the school year in significant and profound ways and she wanted to apologize to the students because they worked so hard and achieved so much throughout the year.

“I want them to know that I share so much pride in everything they have already accomplished. I would say to them, ‘Keep being you and keep working hard, because in the end you will be successful,'” she added, and shared more words with graduating seniors. “Class of 2020, your experience has been disrupted, but your future and your final chapter has yet to be written. I have unending faith in you today and your successes tomorrow. You will be shaped by this experience. Go out and achieve your dreams. As Kerry Washington said, ‘Your life is your story, and the adventure ahead of you is the journey to fulfill your own purpose and potential.’ Good luck to each of you. I will miss you.”

Abdalla said it was time to make a change, but she will always carry a fondness for the school where she spent most of her career.

“I will miss everyone and everything — our entire JVS family and all of the students throughout the years. I feel blessed to have been a colleague to such an extraordinary staff, and I feel humbled by the fact that parents have entrusted their most precious commodity — their children – in our hands,” she said. “I want JVS Superintendent Todd Phillipson, Principal Dan Hartman and current and past administration, teachers and staff to know that my success has always been based on their dedication and hard work. From the bottom of my heart, everyone’s professional support and encouragement over the years have been truly remarkable and will not be forgotten.”

A graduate of the former Stanton High School, Abdalla obtained an associate’s degree in executive secretarial studies from Jefferson Technical School, now Eastern Gateway Community College, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the then-College of Steubenville and a comprehensive business education teacher’s licensure. She also received a master’s degree in vocational business and office education from Kent State University and a master’s of education in educational leadership from Salem International University. Additionally, she took classes at Ohio State, Wright State, Ashland, Youngstown State, Franciscan and Bowling Green State universities.

She taught at Toronto High School from 1975-91, where she was in charge of the vocational intensive office education program and general business classes, as well as advising the Office Education Association/Business Professionals of America student organization. During that time, she taught evening shorthand classes at Jeff Tech and was hired at the JVS in 1991 as a business accounting, legal and medical vocational instructor. The latter went on to become known as the legal/medical vocational business program, plus she became the BPA adviser. Abdalla moved up the ranks in 2001 and performed administrative tasks such as career/technical assessment coordinator, assistant technology coordinator, technology program director, ProgressBook coordinator and grant writer, among others. She was hired as supervisor and assistant principal in 2013 and has held that title ever since.

Throughout her tenure, she has watched the school programs evolve and said she always had an open-door policy for students, teachers and staff.

“I wanted each person to always know that they could come to me for anything, and I would assist in any way possible — even if it was just to talk, assist with a problem or help them to work out a difficult situation.”

Now, she looks forward to traveling with her husband, Michael, and visiting their children, Michael and Alicia, and their families, including spouses Johnna and Christopher and grandchildren Taylor, Brody, Carmen, Lincoln, Royce, Grace and Graham. She might also work part-time to fill out her days.

But she remains grateful to everyone who has been on this journey with her and bid them all a fond farewell.

“I want to publicly thank our board of education members for giving me the opportunity to serve the JVS community. The decision to retire was not an easy one because of my deep connection to our JVS, its students, our staff and the greater JVS community that supports it. Thank you.”

Phillipson thanked Abdalla for her endless work with the school, staff and students.

“She’s had 29 years of dedicated service to the JVS and has been a teacher and administrator, and she’s worked hard to serve the students,” he said.

JVS Board President Larry George concurred that Abdalla had accomplished much during her time at the school and she has left an indelible mark.

“I was fortunate enough to work with her on the board during her whole career at the JVS. She was excellent not only in her classroom or office, but also working with students individually,” George said. “I was also lucky enough to know her as a friend and she’s definitely going to be missed.”

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