From the Mailroom to Vice Principal
By Katie Jain
After 25 long years of dedicated work for the Montgomery school system, Lower Middle School (LMS) Vice Principal Georgianna Kichura has retired. While she will be dearly missed, no one will forget her impact on her students, her coworkers, and the school for years to come.
Though Kichura began working at Montgomery schools in 1995, her Montgomery experience actually began in 1986, when she and her husband moved to the district for their children’s education.
Shortly after Kichura’s oldest daughter graduated from Montgomery High School, the future vice principal assumed her first teaching role as an aide to the high school.
“I came right out of the mailroom,” she later recalled. From there, Kichura worked her way up, first as a fifth grade teacher until June 2007, then as the assistant principal to the Lower Middle School, before finally beginning her final position as vice principal.
Kichura switched roles a number of times, but her impact was unforgettable across the board. Among her many accomplishments, perhaps the most memorable was the founding of Heritage Day 23 years ago at Orchid Hill Elementary.
A few colleagues and Kichura worked together to create what she described as “a celebration to help kids understand that everyone comes from different places with different cultures, and that when those cultures come together, we become a community.”
What began as a classroom experiment became a school-wide annual event, and one that “teachers and students alike look forward to,” according to LMS Principal Michael Richards.
At the root of such a celebration is an ideology Kichura has brought to each of her roles at the school: “We might all have different ideas, philosophies, and thoughts, but somehow together, we find similarities and respect it all,” Richards said.
Deemed a “matriarch” of the school by Richards, Kichura worked hard to help her students.
Through her vice principal position, Kichura worked with Richards to ensure that LMS was “a place kids wanted to come, not just a place of academia. We wanted to make it a place where kids could connect with kids and kids could connect with adults, really just a community of learning, rather than just a school,” she said.
In doing so, Kichura found others with like-minded motivations, such as Skillman resident and educator Gina Ciaramella.
Together the two “created a classroom where all of the children felt like they belonged to a special group,” Ciaramella said. “When we moved to LMS as a fifth grade team, it was she who took our dream of celebrating different cultures to a bigger venue.”
Beyond her ideologies, though, Kichura’s demeanor alone has profoundly transformed LMS into a close-knit community.
“She’s not only my boss, though I enjoyed every minute working with her, but she’s also like family. She has just fostered such a loving and kind environment to not only work for but for the kids as well,” says secretary to the vice principal Annette LaCanna.
According to LaCanna, everyone “knows that if there’s somebody they need to go to, they can feel comfortable going to her, and she will take the time to listen. She has so much to do with the community aspect of the school.”
“I look forward to how everything is changing,” said LaCanna, “but it has just been such a wonderful working environment, and Mrs. Kichura has had so much to do with that.”
She would work with the children, acting as a presence in the hallways when they came in the mornings and left in the afternoon, and getting to know everyone.
Montgomery graduate Eric Zhao said he fondly remembers Kichura’s role at the school, eight years after leaving LMS. Now, Kichura is moving on to take more time for herself and her family. With a newly born grandson in California and more children and grandchildren in Arkansas, Illinois, and New Jersey, Kichura had planned to “hopscotch across the country,” from one child to the next.
Though, with the pandemic, it might be some time before she can safely accomplish that goal. In the meantime, Kichura will take the time she had never had previously to pursue her hobbies, from knitting, to gardening, to volunteering at her church.
Though she will miss “feeling the energy from the students and the teachers and the people who give life to the building, watching all the kids grow from the beginning fifth grade to the end of sixth grade, and seeing teachers who are just so caring and happy to be at the school,” Kichura noted that she was leaving the school in good hands with new vice principal, Lisa Romano, who she descried as “a bright, intelligent woman who cares about everybody and the welfare of the children.”
Kichura was a positive influence on everyone who had the opportunity to know her. Though she might no longer work at the school, the community she fostered will remain. ■