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Middle school principal McElravy retires after 37 years

Elizabeth Forward Middle School principal Jay E. McElravy will retire at the end of the month after 37 years in the district, including 15 as an administrator.

McElravy, 59, said he has no regrets.

“I used to tell my students that I went to school for 26 years, which includes basic education through my graduate school,” McElravy said. “While I obtained a wealth of knowledge during those years, my greatest education came from learning from the kids and their families. I learned how to deal with people. It was a great experience and I have no regrets.”

But the 1962 graduate of Elizabeth Forward High School said he has noticed some dramatic changes.

“When I started teaching the big concerns were kids chewing gum, coming late to class, not bringing their pencils and paper to class, and girls wearing pants instead of skirts,” McElravy said. “I can remember a principal we had who made the female teachers come in, put their hands down to their sides and if their skirt wasn’t below their fingertips he wrote them up. When they came in wearing pants it was like staging a revolution. Those were serious problems back then.”

McElravy said today’s problems are much more serious, especially drugs.

“We’ve experienced kids coming to school high, under the influence of alcohol and a variety of drugs,” he said. “Unfortunately students have had to be arrested for possession of drugs and firearms.”

He noted that society is entirely different today and that is reflected in the schools.

While he became a teacher, he had set out to be an undertaker but changed course in college to teach science.

“Obviously to be an undertaker I had to take science classes,” McElravy said.

He was hired to teach junior high school science in 1966 at a salary of $4,500 a year.

“On the same day I bought my first car, a 1966 Mercury convertible for $4,600, more than my salary,” he quipped.

State Rep. David Levdansky, D-Elizabeth, recalls his days in the classroom with McElravy his teacher.

“I remember Jay’s personality in the classroom as mild mannered, even keeled, even humorous at times,” Levdansky said. “He was well liked and respected by everyone. He’s still young and healthy and I hope this retirement allows him to get involved with the community in other ways.”

McElravy will spend his retirement continuing his involvement in the Masonic fraternity as presiding commander-in-chief of the 10,000-member Scottish Rite Valley of Pittsburgh. He is also chairman of the board of governors for the 32nd Degree Learning Center for Children in Pittsburgh and a member of the board of directors of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

McElravy also hopes to finish restoration of a 1951 GMC truck which was a gift from his wife, Joann, of 31 years.

“The truck was found in an old garage in Lancaster,” Joann McElravy said. “It’s a five-window truck and that’s rare.”


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