McMURRAY – Dr. Robert Freado has learned a lot about human nature after spending the past 34 years in the education field, including 22 years in Peters Township School District.
Freado, 56, spent the last four years as middle school principal, following 11 years as principal at McMurray Elementary School, and eight years before that, as assistant and acting principal at Peters Township High School.
Effective June 30, Freado will retire from the school district and a week after that, July 7, he will begin a new career as director of Caregiving Ministries at the Bible Chapel.
His full-time duties at the nondenominational church in Peters Township will include overseeing the caregiving branches of the church, like those in recovery, divorce, grief counseling and the delivery of meals to shut-ins.
Freado graduated from Monessen High School, where he played baseball and football, and received his bachelor’s degree in special education from California University of Pennsylvania. He later earned his master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Pittsburgh, as well as his doctorate.
His first job in education was in Monessen School District, and along the way, he coached baseball and football from youth leagues to the college level at Washington & Jefferson College.
When the Character Counts program was first initiated in Peters Township 15 years ago, Freado was very involved. Now that he has retired from the district, Freado said he will continue to work with the organization, but to a lesser degree. In 2010, the district was selected as the National School District of Character.
As for his final year in education, Freado said he is extremely proud of the middle school’s designation as a national Blue Ribbon School, awarded in 2013.
For the past three decades, Freado has worked with youngsters from ages 9 to 19. In his new job at the Bible Chapel, he will help to minister to all ages.
“What I’ll miss most is the everyday life of the school,” he said, adding there is a rhythm and a unique culture found in every school. He’s taught two generations of students and several of the middle school teachers, including one from his stint in Bentworth School District.
Now, his life will take a different direction, but his commute will only differ by a few feet. He will continue to live in Peters Township with his wife of 26 years, Laurie, and their two children, Brittany, 23, a recent graduate of Baptist Bible College with a degree in counseling and bible studies, and Brandon, 17, a senior at Cornerstone Christian School.
The new position at the Bible Chapel came up rather unexpectedly, he said. He admits to looking into job opportunities for when he retired from the school district, but when he learned about the new full-time position, Freado said he knew that was the direction in which he wanted to go.
A member of the Bible Chapel for about 25 years, Freado said the church is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has several thousand members and operates on four campuses. Started in a house in Upper St. Clair, the Bible Chapel now has campuses in Peters Township, on Wheeling Street in Washington, in the Pittsburgh Technical Institute building in Robinson Township, and a relatively new branch in a former church building in Wilkinsburg. There is also an online campus for those who have moved away or are unable to physically attend services.
During high school graduation June 6, Freado received a lengthy standing ovation from students and parents. He will be recognized by the school board at a June 30 meeting, during which his replacement may be hired.
His retirement from the district will be bittersweet. He’s sad to be leaving the students and staff, but also excited about beginning a new chapter in his career.
“You get to see kids go through the stages of life and the teachers developing a relationship with them and investing in them,” Freado said. He enjoys teaching and interacting with people.
In his new job, he will still work with those going through changes in their lives and help them to make the transition as smooth as possible.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to live and serve in Peters Township, and I will continue to serve families in the community,” Freado said.
As for his years in education, he said, “I never thought I’d be a principal when I started as it didn’t seem to be very attractive, but I learned it’s very rewarding.”