Good Talk: Mrs. Schmiech

Meet the NASH science teacher who once froze herself into her car before a big date!

Anthony Durzo, News Editor

How long have you been with the North Allegheny family?

This is my 21st year. 2001 to 2002 was the first school year at North Allegheny. 

Where are you from?

I was born in Massachusetts and then I lived in Rhode Island for a little while. Then, I did most of my growing up in Maryland.

Where did you graduate high school and college?

I attended Wilde Lake School District and Penn State University. 

What was your first job out of college?

My first job was as a nuclear engineer at Westinghouse Electric Corporation, which is why I ended up living in Pittsburgh. I loved the job for the first six months when I was learning about nuclear power. When it came down to the meetings and being required to fly to different places for events, I didn’t like it. I would wake up in the morning and I would not want to go to work. I worked there for five years so I really gave it a good try. Then I quit, and my mother was so mad at me. She wouldn’t talk to me because she thought that I was throwing my life away. At that point, I had my daughter so I thought I would be a stay-at-home mom.  

What were the first subjects you taught?

Physics and meteorology. 

What is about meteorology that fascinates you?

Meteorology is such an awesome metaphor for life. Everything is happening for a specific reason and it doesn’t matter what we want to happen. There are circumstances and there’s going to be a certain outcome. I think life is just like that, too.

When you see your students succeed in your classroom, what goes through your mind?

I am so happy for them and I love that feeling. When I see them doing well on a test, I feel so happy and I love being on that side of things. 

In all of your classes, you mark up a mood board, where students rate their mood from 1 (feeling awful) to 5 (feeling great). How did you come up with this idea and what do you hope comes from it?

I came with the idea during COVID. We would be remote and the students wouldn’t have their cameras on. Plus, the classes were not that big. I would just ask them how they are feeling and then it turned into me putting polls on Blackboard Collaborate. During COVID, it was opposite, so “1” was feeling great and “5” was feeling awful. This year, when I started doing it in-person, I switched them.  

Your son, Mr. Schmiech, teaches at NASH as well. What has been the experience like working with your son?

It is just so great. We teach completely different subjects so we can’t really talk about lesson plans, but it’s so neat to see another side of teaching. I think he is a really good teacher and we have fun. 

How long have you played piano?

I started taking piano lessons when I was in kindergarten and I played through high school. My neighbors actually asked me to teach their kids how to play piano. At first, I didn’t want to, but then I gave it a try. That’s how I realized that I really liked teaching. So, I went back to school and got a masters degree in physics. North Allegheny was my first teaching job.  

What activities do you take part in outside of the classroom?

I really like to bike and decorate, and I am in the middle of sewing a dress. Maybe I’ll wear it to school.  

What is your favorite genre of music?

I love jazz, classical, and musical theater. 

Who is someone you would love to meet someday?

I would really like to meet Jon Kabat-Zinn.

What is your favorite throwback tv show?

I Love Lucy

What is your favorite unit in meteorology and physics to teach?

For physics, it’s circuits. In meteorology, it’s probably the atmospheric optics. 

What is your favorite type of precipitation?


What is your favorite type of cloud?

Cirrus, cirrusly.

Weatherwise, what is your perfect day?

It depends on what I want to do that day. If I want a perfect beach day, it’s probably 80 degrees and sunny with some cirrus clouds. No wind; that’s my least favorite part of the weather. A light breeze is okay.

Can you tell the story of when you got stuck in your car?

I was in my early 20s and living in Pittsburgh, so I wasn’t used to all the snow. I had been asked out on a date with this guy at work who was super cute. I was really excited, and I wanted my hair, dress, shoes, and everything else to be perfect. Then, I realized that my car was dirty because it had been snowing. So I took my car to the car wash on the way to his house. I got to the car wash, I put the coin in, and I started cleaning the car. Well, the water was splashing around everywhere in 20 degree weather, so I was making an ice rink around the car and I didn’t realize it. By the time I finished, my hair was a mess and my shoes were all wet. I thought, “Well, at least the car is clean.” When I got to his house, I tried to open the door and I realized I froze myself into the car. I tried to get out the other doors and hatch but nothing would open. Now, this was before cell phones, so there was no way for me to call him. He came outside and I started screaming, “I’m frozen in here.” Well, he walked away and I thought, “That’s a smart guy because who wants to hang around someone as dumb enough to freeze themselves into the car.” He came back with a blow dryer and I was able to get out.