McLaughlin thrives on being with peopleBy Erin Remai
Herald Staff Writer
If it is a summer day, Susan McLaughlin can most likely be found on the tennis courts at Buhl Farm.
"My typical summer day is seven hours of tennis lessons," she said. And that's after getting up at 6:30 a.m. to run five or six miles.
Ms. McLaughlin has always been active. As a child growing up in Sharon, her parents encouraged her to get involved.
"Growing up I lived at the (former Girls) Buhl Club," she said. "I took part in every activity that they offered."
It was at the Buhl Club where Ms. McLaughlin first learned how to swim and play tennis. She also worked there as a lifeguard to finance her college education. In 1989 she was asked to serve on the board of directors.
"When they asked me to serve on their board, I was happy to do that," said Ms. McLaughlin, who said she wants to give back to the community that gave so much to her.
During the school year, Ms. McLaughlin is a guidance counselor for Sharon school district. After spending 23 years at the elementary level, this fall she will work at Sharon High School.
Ms. McLaughlin calls her position with the students unique because she is able to communicate with them one-on-one instead of in a classroom of 30 students.
"I have the ability to sit down with the kids one on one and give them a chance to share their thoughts and feelings," she said. "Not many adults have time to do that. I don't give advice; I'm not Ann Landers. I will help them explore options."
After school, Ms. McLaughlin coaches the high school girls' tennis team in the fall and the boys' tennis team in the spring. She has also coached track and swimming and she helps with the high school musicals.
When she is not playing tennis or involved in school activities, Ms. McLaughlin is working with one of her many community activities.
"I'm a people kind of person," she said. "I like to be with people and I thrive on being with people. It gives me the energy to keep going."
She coordinates the summer concert series at Bicentennial Park and has served on the board of directors for the Shenango Valley Chorale and the Penn State Shenango campus. She is also a Westminster College Operation Interaction Volunteer, which involves serving as a contact person for high school seniors interested in Westminster.
Ms. McLaughlin has also been on the Buhl Day committee since the beginning. This year she is one of five co-chairs, which she says makes her position of Buhl Day honoree a little awkward.
"My first inclination was that I was not worthy. There were people more deserving," she said. "But since it came from my peers, it's an extra honor. I don't know if I've ever been so honored to receive this."
Ms. McLaughlin said her positive attitude comes from her parents and other adults, who always encouraged her as a child.
"I was fortunate to come in contact with positive adults," she said. "Hopefully I'll be a role model to the kids I'm working with and be able to donate my time to the community."
Through all of her accomplishments, Ms. McLaughlin calls being a Buhl Day honoree a highlight of her life.
"It's so heartwarming to see everyone's response," she said. "I've gotten so excited I can't wait for the day."