Faculty Spotlight: Cori Poklembo


Where are you from originally?

I was born in Latrobe, Pa. and now live in Derry, about seven minutes away from where I grew up.  Jeff and I have been married for thirty-four years and our daughter, Sarah, is a senior in high school.

What is your area of research and teaching?

Music is my field of teaching.


What attracted you to this subject?

My family of four sisters and I grew up singing together.  My dad played mandolin and accordion in a band and to entertain his five daughters.  He and my mom attended all the “Smith Girls” concerts from elementary school through college and even after my husband and I got married.  Now, my mom comes to see us perform with the Glass City Swing Band or for a community fundraiser.  The seven of us would fill the entire pew, every Sunday morning at St. Mary’s Church in Bradenville where I’ve been the cantor for thirty-two years.

How did you come to teach at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary?

I came to teach at the seminary after speaking to Fr. John Petro. As rector of the seminary, he asked if I would be interested, and with the offer of a position to teach Chant, I accepted with the approval of Archbishop Basil Schott.

How many years have you taught at the Byzantine Catholic Seminary?

I believe this is my tenth year of teaching.

What is the most challenging part of teaching for you?

The most challenging part of teaching is to help each student find their voice.  Each unique voice has specific needs.  Some voices are quiet and need confidence and some are stressed and need to relax.  I want each student to experience what beautiful singing, (bel canto) is all about.  My greatest joy is to hear them singing,
whether it’s in the chapel or in the hallway outside the classroom.

State one thing you wish you had known in your undergraduate days.

This is a difficult one.  I wish I would have known that time would go by so quickly.  I should have used time more efficiently when I had it because there never seems to be enough of it now.

What experiences have shaped you spiritually?

I’ve been involved with the ECF program at St. Mary’s for many years.  Teaching the ECF students in high school compelled me to search deeply through the scriptures looking for answers that their questions demanded.  Now I’m teaching Kindergarten and first grade. These early years are very precious.  I think sharing the wonder of God’s creation with these little ones, as it was with my daughter Sarah, has given me a greater appreciation for God’s presence all around us. To see everything as a gift to us from God is a good lesson to learn for a lifetime.

What do you do to de-stress?

To relax my family and I like to visit the Living Waters Zoo in Donegal or the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh.  We like to hike at Laurel Hill State Park and camp at Cherry Hill Campground in D.C.

Cat or dog person? 

We have a German Shepherd named Camille.



If you are interested in having Cori—or any of our faculty—speak at your next event, visit www.bcs.edu/faculty-directory.

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