Good Talk: Mr. Buchak

He’s back and helping students have “a NASH day!”

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photo by Julia Poppa

Mr. Buchak is back at NASH, and he’s ready to spread positivity with his encouraging attitude.

He has returned! Mr. Matthew Buchak is back at NASH after spending several years at Marshall Middle School. Along with his position at NASH, he continues to work at MMS as Assistant Principal. 

How old are you?

I’m 42 years old.

Where are you from?

I grew up south of Pittsburgh.

What college did you graduate from?

I attended St. Francis University.

Do you currently live in North Allegheny?

I live in northeastern Pittsburgh.

What inspired you to become a principal?

I played sports growing up, so the impact of positive people came through the school. There were great teachers and coaches. I needed these positive influences. When I became an adult, I had an opportunity to find what I wanted to do, in terms of serving our community. It came through teaching and helping people with disabilities. Since I’ve been apart of that type of experience, it has been a very fulfilling life, and I’m thankful for that. What helped guide it were those positive people in my life that really influenced me to be kind and help others.

Have you ever been a principal outside of the district?

In 2001, I started teaching special education in Hawaii. I came back to Pennsylvania and was teaching at another high school before coming to NASH in 2009. From there, after a few years, they were looking for an assistant principal. I applied and got the job.

How did you manage to land a job in Hawaii after graduating from a Pennsylvania university?

When I went to St. Francis University, I attended a teachers’ fair. There were lines for every local district, such as North Allegheny and Pittsburgh Public Schools. Then, I saw a table with no line in the back of the gymnasium. It said, “The Department of Education of Hawaii.” They offered me a job, and I ended up teaching there for two years.

How did you end up becoming the assistant principal at two NA schools for the 2020-21 school year?

Because of the enrollment in our cyber academy, NACA, there has been a transition of our staff to support our students. We have over 2,000 students currently in our cyber academy, so we had to reallocate staff members, and one of them was Dr. McGahee. The Central Office asked if I could come here and help out while we transition our students. I said, “Absolutely!”

What would you say is the most overwhelming aspect of being an assistant principal at two schools?

It would have to be attempting to get accustomed to where I am. For example, I have to be cautious of which building I am in. One morning recently, I was in Marshall Middle and I said, “Good morning, NASH” over the PA. Then, I came here and said something about MMS. But overall, it’s a great job because I get an opportunity to work with more of our students and staff.

What plans do you have to achieve at both schools?

In particular, at NASH, I think it is important that I am visible with our students—just to show the high-level of support we have. This is a time when we have a choice regarding our outlook. We can either divide or come together for a common purpose. If I did have one goal, it would be to unify us, in order to get through this time in a healthy way.

Do you have any advice for seniors choosing careers or colleges after leaving NASH? Anything you can provide that you learned from your experience?

Stay healthy, stay positive, and also stay in a good relationship with those you look up to. Those types of attributes really help because things change. If you believe in what you want to accomplish and show love towards those who need it, you’ll also receive love from those who want to give it.  

Favorite subject in school?

Math.

Favorite book?

Being George Washington.

Favorite TV show?

Heroes.

Favorite movie?

The Marvel series. Specifically, Iron Man.

Favorite singer/band?

Red Magic Band.

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Cookie dough.

Be honest. Which is better: MMS or NASH?

I love them both.