The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 13, 2006


New administrators bring many talents to the Carlisle Public School

Karen Slack, director of student services

Karen Slack (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)
Karen Slack joined the Carlisle Public School on August 1 as the new director of student services. Her first day was not a lazy summer day — two hours after starting her job she was interviewing potential special educators and aides. But she had spent a full day in July with Linda Stapp and though she said it was "hard to follow in the shoes of someone who had been here so long," she felt people have been great helping her. "The files are in remarkable shape," she said, and praised Administrative Assistant Stacy Lundin, who she said is a wonderful resource.


Slack moved to her new home in Carlisle the same day as starting her job. She previously worked in the Greenfield Public school district for 20 years, first as a special educator for grades K — 5, then as a principal, and finally as the director of student services.

Slack grew up in Manchester, Connecticut, one of three children. She ran a Radio Shack with her husband and was a stay-at-home mom for 11 years. She said her interest in special education grew from her volunteer hours in her children's school. She has a B.A. in psychology and secondary education from Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She has an M.A. in special education with a concentration in learning disabilities from Keene State College. She also has a post graduate certificate from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in administration.

She heard about Carlisle through a friend who had met Superintendent Marie Doyle while traveling in China. "I really wasn't looking for a job," she explained. She was comfortable in Greenfield. She decided to do research on the Carlisle School, she said, which included reading many articles in the Mosquito. "I thought it was the kind of place I would like," she said. She is excited to get to know the students and the families in Carlisle. She says she is encouraging parents to make appointments to meet, rather than meeting first at a yearly team meeting.

Hopes to expand training for special education aides

In discussing her goals she said she would like to offer professional training for teacher aides. whom the state requires to be "highly qualified," meaning they need a minimum number of training points or at least a two-year degree. "[Former Carlisle special education teacher] Sue Fitzgerald passed on a great training program," she explained, and she wants to expand it.

Committed to inclusion

Slack is committed to providing special education services within the regular education setting as much as possible. "I have to wear two hats," she explained. She has to be aware of the needs of the students, and evaluate what the "least restrictive environment" is for each student.

Slack is very interested in parent feedback, she said. One issue that arose at the September Carlisle Parents Advisory Committee (CPAC) was how to prepare students for the transition to high school. Slack is setting up a meeting with Jessica Murphy, her counterpart in Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS), to better understand what occurs when students move to the high school. She noted there were many more transitions in the Greenfield school district, where there were multiple schools for elementary, middle school and high school.

Moving to Carlisle has been wonderful, she said. "It is a nice town to work and live in." She also enjoys living closer to her son who lives in Brighton. "I am thrilled to be here," she said when asked how her first month has gone. She says she walks to school. "I get up every morning eager to come to work and I enjoy every day."

Heidi Zimmerman, Carlisle School business manager

Heidi Zimmerman, Carlisle School's new business manager, has brought a solid business and education background to her new job. Formerly she was the administrator of operations and finance for the Beverly Public Schools in Beverly, overseeing a $50 million budget. Previously she worked in the office of the Massachusetts Inspector General for ten years. Prior to serving as an assistant general counsel in the Inspector General office, she was a paralegal in the Boston region of the Environmental Protection Agency.

A teacher and an attorney

Heidi Zimmerman (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)
Zimmerman grew up in Framingham, attending the Framingham Public Schools. She graduated from Brandeis University with a B.A. in political science. She received her J.D. (Doctor of Jurisprudence) with a focus on environment law from the George Washington University National Law Center. She earned her elementary teacher certification through the University of Massachusetts at Boston. She passed the Massachusetts bar in 1991.

Her first two months at the Carlisle School have been "fabulous," Zimmerman said. The community clearly values education, is supportive and she noted the volunteer spirit. She praised the administrative team, the teachers, and Susan Pray and Denise Casper, her business office team. She said she is taking time to build an understanding of the "Carlisle culture" and using that understanding to define priorities. She said she enjoys "wearing more hats," taking on projects as needed. Her responsibilities, according to the administration organizational chart handed out at the October 4 Carlisle School Committee meeting, include developing and managing the budget, managing building projects, grant writing, human resources, state reports, managing the technology department, managing the food service department including procurement, and liaison with Carlisle Town Hall.

While working in Beverly, she gained valuable experience building working relationships with Town Hall personnel, and she is continuing that skill in Carlisle. There are many human resource tasks she shares with Town Hall offices including evaluating health insurance plans.

Explaining that she has always loved to teach, Zimmerman continues her teaching experience twice a month at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline. She and her husband live in Belmont with their four-year-old son.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito