Staff

Mr. Dan Potlas

Dan graduated from St. Ursula grade school, Vincentian High School, and Duquesne University.  He holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education. Dan’s formative years were spent in Shaler Township; he has lived the last 27 years in Hampton Township. As Joanne Potlas’ oldest child, Dan was five years old when the school was started, and has worked his entire career at Royal Oak. In 1974 he began working after school picking up trash and sweeping floors, and in the warm months also helped with yard maintenance. After graduating college, Dan assumed the Kindergarten teaching duties, teaching math and science. He has retained that position ever since, though he also works with other groups when necessary, and leads all the field trips in the summer. When not at the school, Dan enjoys working on cars, in particular his Mercury Capri and Ford Bronco. 

Mrs. Lori Smith

Lori graduated from Duquesne University with a B.S. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education in 1991. Joanne Potlas’ daughter, she began working at Royal Oak as a volunteer in high school, and after graduating from college began working full- time as a teacher in the Nursery classroom. Through the years she has worn many hats including teaching all classes, the lunch lady, and the art teacher, which is her favorite. Currently the Directress of the school, she still teaches art, and puts on an amazing art show every year. She is the mother of two children and enjoys reading and vacationing anywhere with a beach. 

Mrs. Dena Allegra

Dena graduated from Edinboro University in 2007 with a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice and a minor in Political Science. She also has her paralegal certification. Prior to working at Royal Oak, she was a caseworker in the mental health field for 12 years. She started at Royal Oak in 2018 and has worked with various groups as an aide since then. She currently oversees the Primary Prep students for their virtual learning days. Her favorite lunch is waffles and she sings professionally as a hobby. Dena’s daughter is an alumni of Royal Oak. 

Mrs. Samantha Downs

Sammi graduated from Hampton High School in 2015 and attended Seton Hill University. She worked at Royal Oak while in High School as the door person. She returned to Royal Oak in 2019 after being a nanny for four years. Working at Royal Oak is somewhat of a tradition in her family, as her mother and brother have also worked at Royal Oak. Sammi attended Royal Oak for Nursery through Kindergarten from 2000-2003. She has loved Royal Oak’s Sloppy Joe’s since childhood! When Sammi isn’t at Royal Oak, she loves spending time with her husband and Shetland Sheepdog (Dixie). She enjoys reading, building puzzles, and long walks. 

Ms. Terri Hoburg

Terri graduated from Shaler High School. She began working at Royal Oak in January 2000. Since then she has worked as an aide with all different age groups. Her favorite lunches are meatloaf and chicken rice casserole. Both of her daughters and her granddaughter are Royal Oak alumni. Terri is quoted as saying “Royal Oak is not just a job to me, the staff and the family’s are like my own family.”

Mrs. Pat Leven 

Pat graduated from Ohio State University in 1970 with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education. Over the years she has received credits from Point Park University, Penn State University, and Geneva College. Originally from Columbus Ohio, Pat moved to Pittsburgh in 1971, and started at Royal Oak in 1973. At almost 40 years teaching here, she holds the distinction as the staff member who has been here the longest. She teaches Reading, Social Studies, and Spanish to the Kindergarten students. Pat's favorite Royal Oak lunch is meatloaf and she enjoys everything Disney related. Pat’s two sons attended Royal Oak, and two of her grandchildren did as well. 

Mrs. Maureen McConnell

Maureen graduated from Duquesne University in 1991 with a B.S. in Elementary Education. Before starting at Royal Oak in 2018 teaching the PreKindergarten class, Maureen worked at St. Bonaventure School for 27 years. Her favorite lunch is chicken rice casserole and she is most excited to be once again teaching with Mrs. Simurda. Once voted Miss Irish Smiling Eyes, Maureen is married and has four children between the ages of 8 and 12. She enjoys watching Hallmark movies and if laundry was considered a hobby, it would be hers.

Mrs. Diana Mitchell

Diana graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1990 with a B.S. in Elementary Education. As a 5th grader, Diana delivered the North Hills News Record. As she got older, some customers asked her to do other jobs for them, such as pet sitting and babysitting, which is how she met Mrs. Leven. When the Leven's would go on vacation, Diana would watch their dog Buckey. She also acted as a babysitter for Mrs. Leven’s children. Mrs. Leven suggested Diana apply at Royal Oak for a job on her summer breaks from college, which she did, working summers and holidays from 1987-1993. After getting married, Diana took some time off before returning in 2009. Her son attended Royal Oak at that time, and she is currently the Nursery teacher. Her favorite Royal Oak lunch is meatloaf.  

 

Mrs. Julie Simurda

Julie has a Bachelor’s in Elementary and Special Education from Duquesne University. Graduating in 1994, she worked at St. Bonaventure School as a teacher for many years before starting at Royal Oak in 2018. Julie teaches one of the Pre-Kindergarten classes. Originally from the South Hills, she now lives in Deer Lakes School District and coaches their girls basketball and volleyball teams.  She is the proud mother of two daughters and is an avid dog lover.