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Moon's Zurchin Pens 'Whale Done School'

The Moon Area School District assistant superintendent releases her first book on the power of positive reinforcement.

For Cynthia Zurchin, it was a labor of love. 

The Moon Area School District assistant superintendent celebrated the release of her first book, The Whale Done School, with an evening book signing Thursday at the Settlers Ridge Barnes & Noble.

The book is a spin-off of the popular 2002 Ken Blanchard book Whale Done: The Power of Positive Relationships. 

Zurchin said she spent much of the last year working on the book. 

In the original Whale Done, management expert Blanchard discussed how the same positive reinforcement used to train killer whales at Sea World could translate in the business world. 

Zurchin, who resides in Sewickley, said lessons from Whale Done helped her transform Pittsburgh's Shaeffer Elementary: The educator stepped in as principal of the school in 2007, when its student suspension rates were among the highest in the city. 

She said she adapted Whale Done methods for her elementary students, helping quell suspensions and other disciplinary problems in the school through a steady stream of positive reinforcement. 

Several of Zurchin's former colleagues from Shaeffer attended the book signing. 

"It can absolutely be life changing," Zurchin said of the "Whale Done" philosophy. "We say you can reinforce the positive and redirect the negative." 

Zurchin's book, co-authored by James Ballard and Thad Lacinak, features a forward penned by Blanchard himself. 

Zurchin was hired by the Moon Area School District in January 2011. She said members of the district have begun to adopt the Whale Done philosophy. 

"We're really starting to see some members of the school district embrace (Whale Done)," Zurchin said. "It's exciting. Some of the schools, the teachers and the parents, have really gotten into it." 

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