“I am just so blessed,” Beaver resident Betty Sue Schaughency, Ph.D. shared with us during our chat reminiscing about her life.
Betty Sue’s journey has taken her from Boozy Creek in rural Scott County, Virginia (near Bristol), where she was born to Robert Todd Carter and Estelle Pippin Carter in August 1934, to our community.
“The most influential person in my life has been my dad,” Betty Sue said. Mr. Carter was both a school principal and a preacher. He established Gardners Chapel Primitive Baptist Church located on Boozy Creek Road and pastored the church for 43 years; her brother Bobby for 32 years, and presently her nephew Josh Johnson, Esq. Betty Sue remains a member after all these years.
“You ask about my major accomplishments…,” she trailed off as she opened a copy of her book and pointed to a photo of her children Jim, Tom, Barbra, and their spouses. Her husband Bob, their three children, and their five grandchildren are all graduates of the Beaver Area School District.
Betty Sue knows the Beaver Area School District well as she served it in many capacities in her 48-year career. She started as a Physical Science and Civics teacher in 1955 and worked in a variety of positions until her retirement as the district’s first female Superintendent in 2004.
“When I think of things I’m proud of, I’m really proud of the [BASD Education] Foundation,” she said, which she helped form in 1985.
“We had a fifth-grade teacher by the name of Helen Schwartz. Her husband Bill, who had passed, started the Beaver Bop-Cats. She gave a scholarship in his name every year to a music major,” Betty Sue remembered.
Helen came to the school one day with a $5,600 check. She said, “They’ve started to put interest on savings accounts, so what do I do with this?” Betty Sue called the Pennsylvania Dept. of Education and said, “I’ve been thinking about a Foundation. Colleges have Foundations. Why can’t schools have Foundations?” The person Betty Sue spoke with hadn’t heard of such a thing being done before.
Betty Sue called the school solicitor John Petrush next. “He did everything for us pro bono. He got the charter and cut through all the red tape. He was the one who did all the work. I knew the key to success was to have ‘movers and shakers’ on the inaugural board. School Director Ron Dishler, one of my former students, banker Joe Tosh, and I met several times and identified 11 board members. They turned out to be a magical group. They got us off the ground. The Foundation now has assets of over $1 million – most of which has come from the establishment of memorial scholarships. It’s a wonderful way to memorialize someone. We’ve granted $42,000 in scholarships in each of the last two years.”
She also lists the Ed Schaughency Theater as one the biggest achievements under her leadership. Uncle Ed was with KDKA radio for 48 years. After he died, his widow Gertrude and his brother Paul (also Beaver grads) wanted to establish a living memorial for Ed in the high school.
“We had a large group instruction area that wasn’t being used…Chuck Townsend and the English Department made the suggestion [to convert it into a theater]. When we renovated the high school in 1995, we turned the large group instruction area into a little theatre. It’s now the most-used space in the school.”
The experiences that best prepared Betty Sue for the superintendency, she believes, was serving as a part-time national consultant with the Educator Training Center in Los Angeles for ten years. She trained school leadership teams in Keene, NH; San Marcus, TX; Madison, OH; Kansas City, MO, and other school systems all over the country.
As part of the 1995 renovations, Betty Sue had another idea that was pivotal for the school – bringing the bell that was given to the high school from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at its founding in 1880 to the new building.
“The building was so long, it needed a focal point,” Betty Sue rationalized.
The Bell Tower is now an integral part of the school. Students see it every day as they enter the building and many pictures for the yearbook are taken next to it.
“Another thing I’m really proud of is the JROTC,” Betty Sue said. At first, the Army was hesitant to have a program at Beaver because there were only 19 cadets who originally signed up. But thanks to Betty Sue’s perseverance, they relented. In the 2015-2016 school year, the program had 130 cadets. The JROTC now plays a big role in the community, participating in community service projects and the Beaver Area Memorial Day Parade & Ceremony.
After retiring as Superintendent, Betty Sue served as a Consultant with the University of Pittsburgh’s Educational Leadership Initiative and worked with superintendents in Burgettstown, Fox Chapel, Trinity Area, and Blackhawk. She also published her book Listening to that Still Small Voice in 2016 as a way to honor her father and brother Bobby. You can find a copy of the book at the Beaver Area Memorial Library.
What’s next for Betty Sue? She’s working on her second book, which will be a memoir entitled A Memoir from Boozy Creek and Beyond. She also loves playing duplicate bridge. Another joy has been watching her grandchildren choose their careers and playing with her great grandchildren, twins Carter and Peppa.
Last but not least, when looking back on her life, Betty Sue notes that she’s proud of her family and former students, and is pleased that she landed in Beaver. She calls Beaver her Camelot as it feels to her like the mythical city that was seated on the River Usk. – Beaver is just on the Ohio River instead!
“Through these many years and times of both crisis and decision-making, I could always hear Dad’s words, ‘Turn it over to the Lord, listen to that still small voice.’ I’ve tried my best to do that. I am grateful, I am fortunate, I am blessed,” she said.
Chronology of Betty Sue Schaughency, Ph.D. 48 Years with Beaver Area School District
1955-1956 Physical Science and Civics Teacher
1957-1959 Physical education teacher
1959-1966 Chemistry teacher
1967-1968 Seventh Grade Counselor
1968-1969 Eighth Grade Counselor
1969-1980 Director of Guidance and Elementary Counselor
1981-1985 Director of Student Services
1986-1990 Assistant Superintendent
1990-1991 Substitute Superintendent