Teachers, administrators, newly hired teachers, and family and friends of Debbie DeBlasio crowded into the New Castle School Board meeting room Monday night.
Most of them were there with well wishes for DeBlasio, who is retiring as superintendent June 30 after 42 years of working with the district. She had previously been a student in the district since first grade. Monday was her last public school board meeting.
There were quotes, poems, a video with photos of her life, flowers and cupcakes trimmed in the school colors of red and black spelling “NC” to honor her legacy with the district.
“I started at Lincoln-Garfield at 6 years old, so my entire life has been New Castle education,” DeBlasio commented, adding, “I don’t know who to begin to even thank. This has been a beautiful journey, and I wish for the new hires that they have the same journey.”
DeBlasio graduated from New Castle High School in 1976. She attended Slippery Rock University and graduated in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In 2002 she received her master’s degree in education administration from Westminster College, where she also completed her post-graduate work.
She did her superintendent letter of eligibility work at Westminster and at Duquesne University, completing it in 2008.
She started her career with the district as a day-to-day substitute teacher in 1980.
The district hired her as a kindergarten teacher at West Side School in 1984. She later became the elementary computer teacher, then an elementary teacher at Harry W. Lockley Early Learning Center.
She served as a principal from 1999 through 2014, working at Thaddeus Stevens, John F. Kennedy and Harry W. Lockley schools.
She was named assistant to the superintendent in 2014, and in 2018, she was named as the district’s first woman superintendent. Her brother, George Gabriel, had previously served in that capacity.
A challenge of her superintendent’s career was to steer the district through at-home instruction during COVID-19.
A lifelong resident of New Castle, she was born and raised on the South Side and her family moved to Lynn Street when she was in seventh grade. She still resides on the city’s East Side.
She and her husband, Rick, have a daughter, Mary Rose Fleo, currently an elementary teacher in the district. Their son, Richard “Ricky” DeBlasio, is an in-house attorney for Excalibur, a worker’s comp company.
Her retirement plans are to see her son get married, then travel. Her ultimate goal is to become a grandmother and be a part of their lives.
“I want to continue to remain active in the community and in my church, St. John’s Maronite Catholic Church,” she said.
“Last night I completed my circle with the love and gratitude that was shown to me,” DeBlasio said. “I thank everyone for being there and supporting me, and I’ll always love the New Castle Area School District.”