Superintendent of Schools

Mary-Margaret Zehr began as the Superintendent of Schools for Carmel Central School District in February 2021.

She brings years of experience, strong leadership skills, and an understanding of the importance of clear communication with all stakeholder groups.

Zehr began her lifelong career in education as a Social Studies teacher, but quickly moved onto administrative roles. Among these, she has served as high school and middle school principal, Committee on Special Education chair, assistant superintendent and superintendent.

She holds a certificate of advanced study in Educational Administration from SUNY-Oswego, a Master of Arts degree in Social Studies and International Education from New York University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary and Early Secondary Education from SUNY-Cortland. Her certifications include New York State Permanent School District Administrator and permanent teaching certification in Social Studies.

Updates from the Superintendent

  • November 23, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community,

    The Thanksgiving season is a time to gather, enjoy the company of our loved ones, and pause to reflect on all that we are grateful for in our lives. As we enter the holiday break for Thanksgiving, I send each of you my heartfelt thanks for all that you do for our district and its students.

    Thank you to our students for inspiring us every day. It is our privilege to watch you learn, grow and succeed in the care of our district, and we are immensely proud of your many accomplishments – in school and in your personal lives.

    Thank you to our parents, guardians and community members for your unwavering support of our students – at home, in our buildings and on our fields. Your dedication to the children of our district and your partnership to ensure that they have the best possible education is incredible to witness.

    Thank you to our teachers and staff for continuing to make connections with our students every day and supporting them in their educational journey. Whether you plan and teach lessons, transport students, prepare and serve nutritious meals, support offices and departments, ensure student safety, maintain our buildings or support our students in a multitude of ways, our students’ successes are also your successes.

    As we break for the holiday, I extend my warmest wishes for happy and safe celebrations with family and friends. I hope everyone can recharge over the holiday break and use the time to connect with family and friends.

    I am so thankful to be a part of this amazing Carmel community. On behalf of Carmel Central School District and its administration, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

    Best regards, 

    Mary-Margaret Zehr  
    Superintendent of Schools 

    Superintendent of Schools
  • November 3, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community, 

    It has been quite a busy few weeks in our district and it has been great to see so much excitement and enthusiasm among our students, staff and parents at the many events that have taken place. We had a wonderful Homecoming event that brought together the entire Carmel community for a fun-filled day where the Carmel pride was overflowing! 

    Thank you to our district Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) groups for hosting so many wonderful activities in the past month including the Color-A-Thon at the elementary schools, Halloween parties and Trunk-or-Treats, book fairs, spirit days and more. Seeing so many of our students and families gathering in new and fun ways has been amazing. 

    Here are a few updates and reminders from our district: 

    Interim Superintendent for Instruction 
    In the spirit of beginning the season of being thankful and expressing our gratitude, the District extends our heartfelt thanks to Dr. Mary Foster as she departs from her role on our administrative team. For the last several months, our district has been fortunate to have Dr. Foster serving as our interim Assistant Superintendent for Instruction while the position remained vacant. During her time with the district, Dr. Foster has been instrumental in so many of our great initiatives including the implementation of professional development sessions on the Science of Reading for our grade K-6 staff, a continued focus on our literacy programs in grades K-6 and more.  

    Our district has made so many positive strides forward during her time with us and we are grateful for all that she has done. We will surely miss having her as part of our administrative team, even if it was only temporary, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors. 

    As I announced in an email back in June, Lauren Santabarbara has transitioned from her previous role as principal of Carmel High School and is now serving as Interim Superintendent of Instruction for the remainder of the 2022-2023 school year. Later this spring, we will re-evaluate the role and make a decision regarding a permanent hire in the role. 

    Inclement Weather Communications 
    While we are still in the height of the fall season, the winter season and possibility of inclement weather are not far off. The safety of our students and staff is always most important when making the difficult decision to delay, close or dismiss early due to weather conditions. 

    As a reminder, should there be a need to delay opening, close schools or dismiss students early from school due to inclement weather, a recorded phone call, email and text will go out from the District. In addition, this information will be posted to the District website as well as our Facebook and Twitter accounts after the phone call, email and text go out. Our goal is always to send these updates by 5:30 a.m. on school days to provide enough time for our families to prepare but as we have learned, weather conditions are sometimes ever-changing. 

    Our district certainly has a busy calendar of even more events taking place over the next several weeks and I look forward to the opportunities to see and speak to many more community members. I hope you will join us and continue to make some amazing Carmel connections! 

    As always, should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. 

    Best regards, 

    Mary-Margaret Zehr 
    Superintendent of Schools 

    Superintendent of Schools
  • October 5, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community,

    Happy Homecoming and Spirit Week! It looks like the weather this weekend will be perfect for our Homecoming celebration and we hope the entire community will come out for the various festivities of the weekend. The Carmel pride has been buzzing in our buildings all week in anticipation of all the wonderful Homecoming activities in store.

    If you are planning to join us for Homecoming, here are a few quick updates and reminders about the activities this weekend:

    Homecoming Bonfire
    Our annual Homecoming Bonfire will kick off on Friday, October 7, at 6 p.m. at George Fischer Middle School. We look forward to recognizing our fall athletes at the event with special performances to follow. The bonfire will be ignited at 8 p.m. Regrettably, we will be unable to host the fireworks display as previously planned. While much planning was done by the District and the Carmel Rams Booster Club to secure a vendor to provide celebratory fireworks, unfortunately, insurance coverage and liability issues are preventing the display from happening. While the outcome is not what we wanted, the Homecoming celebration and fun will continue with the planned bonfire and athletic recognitions.

    Homecoming Parade
    We can’t wait to see all our Homecoming Superheroes marching down Gleneida Avenue and Fair Street on Saturday! Don’t forget that the 2022 Homecoming Parade will step off at 11:30 a.m. from the Putnam County Courthouse Lot and will end at Carmel High School where parade floats will be judged and awarded prizes. Come on out and cheer on your favorite school and community groups all in the name of Homecoming spirit.

    Senior Athlete Recognition
    Our fall senior athletes will be honored in a special recognition ceremony under the arch on the field before the scheduled football game on Saturday. We are so proud of all our fall athletes and look forward to celebrating them with their families on the field. Congratulations, senior fall athletes!

    Homecoming Varsity Football Game
    The Varsity Football Homecoming Game against Mount Vernon will kick off on Saturday, October 8, at 1:30 p.m. at Robert Kristeller Field at Carmel High School. We look forward to the special performances by the Carmel High School Dance Team and Twirlers and a Historic-themed Halftime Show by the CCSD Cheerleaders. Our Carmel Rams Football team has had an amazing start to the 2022 season, and we can’t wait to cheer them on at Saturday’s big game. Let’s go, Rams!

    Again, we hope to see the entire Carmel Community at the parade and football game on Saturday. We also extend our heartful thanks to all those parents, staff members, and volunteers who are supporting our students in what is sure to be another memorable Spirit Week and Homecoming.

    Best wishes,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools 

    Superintendent of Schools
  • September 22, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community,

    We are just a few weeks into the school year and so many exciting classroom lessons, meetings, athletic games, and student club and PTO-sponsored events have already taken place on our school campuses. The 2022-2023 school year has already started off strong and there is still so much more to come!

    I am writing to you today to share some exciting district initiatives underway and upcoming community events where you can join in the conversation to help shape the future of our district.

    Strategic Planning
    I am pleased to share that Carmel Central School District will be working with Syracuse University’s Office of Public Research and Development in the School of Education to develop a new strategic plan that will help advance us forward over the next several years. The last time we reviewed a strategic plan for the district was prior to the pandemic and so much has changed in two years! We are excited to embark on this journey over the next several months with the goal of a unified plan for our district’s future.

    Throughout the fall, our strategic planning partner will be conducting conversations with key district leaders, identifying benchmark studies and reviewing our previous strategic plans to create a starting point. This includes a 10-year review of our student achievement data. As we move into late-winter and spring, our partners will look to conduct surveys with parent groups, teachers and students to gain feedback on our district’s climate. We look forward to the opportunity to hear from you in this strategic planning process and value the contributions you each can provide. See additional information about our strategic planning process.

    Coffee & Connections with the Superintendent
    It has been my desire since I joined the district last year to host regularly scheduled gatherings to hear directly from our parents and community. Now that the stressors of the pandemic have been greatly reduced and we are able to safely gather together, it is the perfect opportunity to start our Coffee & Connections with the Superintendent events. My hope is to provide an informal setting and refreshments for open dialogue on select topics during the year. I have scheduled three of these in-person meetings and hope that you will make plans to join me on November 1, February 15 and May 30.

    The first Coffee & Connections event on November 1 will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the George Fischer Middle School library. At this first event we will be discussing curriculum initiatives and details of the strategic planning process. Please bring your questions and comments and I will bring the coffee and snacks!

    At the beginning of the school year, I challenged the district staff to make the 2022-2023 school year the year of connections. I would like to extend that challenge to our parents and community as well. We hope you will take the time to come out and connect with our district and help support the educational journey of our district students.

    Best regards,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Superintendent of Schools
  • September 9, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community,

    We have now completed our first week of the 2022-2023 school year and the exciting and familiar cadence of the school year is well underway. Our district students have already begun connecting with friends – new and old, learning new skills, exploring possibilities, and are just enjoying being back together in the classroom. I am honored to have a front-row seat to watch them grow and succeed in our classrooms in the coming weeks and months.

    As you know, Carmel Central School District collaborates closely with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department to place School Resource Officers (SROs) in our District schools. We greatly value our working relationship with the Sheriff’s Department and are so appreciative of the assistance that our trained SROs provide to ensure and maintain a safe educational environment for our students and staff in our school buildings.

    Last week, we were made aware of a new program that the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department has instituted department-wide which would require the SROs assigned to work in school buildings to wear body-worn cameras effective at of the start of the 2022-2023 school year. In order to understand how this new policy might impact our schools, I, along with several other superintendents in our county, asked to meet with Sheriff McConville and other Putnam County officials to gain a clearer explanation of how and when these devices might be used.

    In that meeting, Sheriff McConville assured the school districts that the body-worn cameras will only be enabled in the school environment to record incidents and interactions involving the SROs when the officer needs to perform necessary law enforcement activity, or when the officer believes it necessary to protect school staff and students. A copy of a letter that was sent from Sheriff McConville documenting the reasons for implementation of this program is attached to this email for your reference.

    Our district has already begun the process of reviewing our procedures to determine if any need to be updated in light of the new body-worn camera requirements. We are continuing to work out the specific details about how and when body-worn cameras worn by our SROs will be implemented in certain situations.

    We remain ever thankful for our SROs and the support that they and the County provide and look forward to our continued collaboration in ensuring school safety. If you have any questions regarding this, please feel free to contact my office directly at (845) 878-2094 ext. 201, or the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department at (845) 225-4300.

    Sincerely, 

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools 

    Superintendent of Schools
  • August 29, 2022

    Dear Carmel Parents & Students,

    Welcome to the 2022-23 school year! I hope that your summer break was enjoyable and relaxing and that you are ready to enter an incredible academic year in our district. We have so much planned for our students and we cannot wait to watch them learn, grow, and make meaningful connections this year.

    We look forward to welcoming our students and staff back to our buildings for the first day of the school year later this week. As a reminder, Thursday, September 1, will be a full day of school for our students in grades 1-12, and a modified school day for our incoming kindergarten students with an orientation and bus run. Detailed information about the schedule for the incoming kindergarten students was emailed directly from the elementary schools’ principals.

    There is so much excitement for the 2022-23 school year, a year that is beginning with a sense of normalcy that we have missed the last two school years. Once again, our amazing teachers and staff are committed to creating a supportive, safe, educational and, of course, fun learning environment for all students.

    As part of our commitment to keeping our buildings safe, here are a few reminders and updates for coming back to our buildings for the 2022-2023 school year.

    • On August 11, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released updated guidance and COVID mitigation strategies for K-12 schools for the 2022-2023 school year. A summary of the guidance for parents/caregivers from the New York State Department of Health is attached to this email and posted on the COVID-19 section of our website.
    • The CDC continues to recommend that people stay home when sick. Any student or staff member who has symptoms of respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, such as cough, fever, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea, should stay home. If a student or staff member is symptomatic, they will be sent home.
    • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home for five (5) days and may return on day 6 if symptom-free for at least 24 hours. Upon return, individuals should wear a mask in our buildings through day 10 after ending isolation.

    We are just a few days away from seeing our students’ smiling faces, hearing the excited buzz of young minds ready to learn in our hallways, and kicking off a wonderful school year. Thank you for your partnership and support in your child’s educational journey in our district. We hope that you will join us at our many events and celebrations this year.

    Once again, welcome to the 2022-2023 school year!

    Best regards,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Superintendent of Schools
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