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

  • June 24, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community,

    In what feels like a blink of an eye, another school year has come to a close. We have had quite a journey during the 2021-22 school year, but this year ends with a more familiar sense of normalcy that we have not felt in the last two years. As we close the door on the 2021-22 school year, we eagerly open the door to the 2022-23 school year and its infinite possibilities.

    Before we officially depart for the summer break, I would like to take this opportunity to share a few messages of appreciation and congratulations.

    To our students, especially the Class of 2022, congratulations on an amazing year full of wonderful memories, growth, accomplishments and, of course, fun. Last night, we had the privilege of graduating 384 Carmel High School seniors who are more than ready to accomplish great things in their next chapter. We wish our seniors much success and happiness in the years to come and remind them to stay in touch! To all our students returning to our schools in the fall, we look forward to adding more wonderful memories with you in your next chapter with us.

    To our incredible teachers and staff, thank you. Thank you for your adaptability, continued creativity, and commitment to meeting the needs of each and every student who entered our buildings, despite any challenges that came your way. You are the heart of our district, and we would not be able to do what we do without you. I remain immensely grateful for all that you do for our students every day.

    To our Carmel parents and guardians, thank you for sharing your children with us and allowing us to help them grow every day. Our district has spectacular students and that stems from you as parents and guardians. Your support, partnership, and active involvement in your child’s educational journey are a testament to our shared desire for success for each district student. We look forward to continuing to work with you in new ways to ensure that continued success.

    I wish you all an enjoyable summer break and look forward to seeing you back in the fall!

    Best wishes,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Superintendent of Schools
  • June 22, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community,

    I am writing to you today to share some updates to the staffing changes within our district that I shared recently with you. These updates were shared at last night’s Board of Education meeting.

    Assistant Superintendent for Instruction
    As I shared in a previous email, the district has not yet been able to identify a permanent replacement for the open role of Assistant Superintendent for Instruction. I am pleased to share that upon her return from an approved leave in early fall, Carmel High School Principal Lauren Santabarbara will take on the role of interim Assistant Superintendent for Instruction through the end of the 2022-23 school year. Lauren will have some overlap time with our current interim, Dr. Mary Foster, to ensure a seamless transition and Mary will be available to the district as a mentor for the role.

    In spring, we will re-evaluate the role and make a decision regarding advertising for a permanent hire in the role for the subsequent school year.

    Carmel High School Interim Principal
    Last month, Deborah Weisel was appointed to the interim principal position at Carmel High School to fill the role for Principal Lauren Santabarbara while she is on her approved leave. Deborah will remain in the position as Lauren steps into the interim Assistant Superintendent role while we work to find a longer-term interim principal at Carmel High School. We have plans to re-evaluate this role, as well as the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction role, in spring to determine our next steps. We will continue to update the Carmel community as we work to fill positions permanently.

    As we look ahead to the 2022-23 school year, I am confident that our district will continue to advance in new and wonderful ways that keep our students’ success at the center of all that we do. Thank you for your continued partnership to make our district the best that it can be.

    As always, please feel free to reach out to my office with any questions.

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Superintendent of Schools
  • June 8, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community,

    The conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year is quickly approaching, and I look forward to seeing the many celebrations and end-of-year activities that will be taking place in our schools over the next few weeks.

    I am writing to you today to let you know of some staffing updates and changes within our district that will take place over the next several weeks and months.

    Assistant Superintendent for Instruction
    After completing an extensive search for a new Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, we have not yet been able to identify a candidate that would be the best fit for our district. Our survey from earlier this year identified that the community would like someone in this position who is student-centered and highly collaborative among other qualities. We are committed to finding a replacement that meets and exceeds the expectations of our community, so rather than settle on a candidate, we have begun searching for an interim until a full-time replacement has been identified. Our current interim, Mary Foster, will be with us through June 30. We will continue to update the Carmel community as we work to fill the position on a temporary basis.

    Kent Elementary School Principal
    As many of you are already aware, Kathryn White has resigned from her position as principal of Kent Elementary School. Her last day with our district will be June 30 after the conclusion of the current school year. We thank her for her service to our district and wish her all the best in her next chapter as an educational leader.

    We have begun advertising for a full-time replacement with plans to appoint a candidate later this summer for an anticipated start at the end of September. Until then, we will be filling the role with an interim who will work this summer and throughout the beginning of the school year until a full-time replacement is hired. At last night’s Board of Education meeting, Anthony DiCarlo was appointed to the interim elementary school principal position beginning July 5. Anthony recently retired from his role as Superintendent of Schools for Mahopac Central School District and has a wealth of knowledge as an educational leader. He has previously served many years as both an elementary and middle school principal in several districts, and I am confident that he will be an asset to our district and the Kent Elementary School community during this transitional time.

    Carmel High School Interim Principal
    At last night’s Board of Education meeting, Deborah Weisel was appointed to the interim principal position at Carmel High School. Deborah will be filling the role for Principal Lauren Santabarbara while she is on an approved leave through early fall. Deborah is no stranger to our district and many of you may remember her fondly from her time as the principal of Kent Elementary School prior to her retirement in 2018. Her previous knowledge of our district will be an asset as we quickly begin preparations for the 2022-2023 school year. We look forward to welcoming Deborah back to our district temporarily beginning June 27.

    We look forward to working with our interim administrators over the next several months to advance our district in new directions. As always, please feel free to reach out to my office with any questions.

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Superintendent of Schools
  • May 25, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community,

    I write to you today with a heavy heart in the wake of the tragedy that occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, yesterday.

    Our hearts go out to Robb Elementary School and the entire Uvalde community, especially those families who are dealing with the loss of a loved one after a senseless act of violence.

    Our counselors and Pupil Personnel Services department are available to address the social-emotional needs of any student or staff who needs support and/or an outlet to discuss the incident. We encourage anyone needing support for any reason to please reach out to them. 

    At Carmel Central School District, the safety and security of our students and staff is always our highest priority. Our district will continue to maintain all the protocols and procedures that we have in place to ensure safety. We appreciate your ongoing partnership and understanding of our enforcement of these protocols to help keep our schools safe. 

    Our School Resource Officers work with our local and state law enforcement agencies every day to ensure the safety of all our students. We remain grateful for our long-standing working partnership with the Putnam County Sherriff’s Department and the New York State Police who are committed to keeping our community safe and work diligently to prevent tragedies from occurring. Our district is also supported by a regional safety coordinator through Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES to ensure that we stay up to date on all school safety protocols. Our District-wide Safety Team meets regularly to review, revise, and implement procedures designed to keep our campuses safe. 

    In the wake of the news out of Texas, please reassure your children that our district takes the responsibility of keeping them safe very seriously. We encourage them to speak to their teacher, guidance counselor, or any adult in their immediate vicinity if they ever feel uneasy or unsafe at any time during the day.

    We will continue to keep Robb Elementary School and the Uvalde, Texas, community in our thoughts as they navigate this senseless tragedy.

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Superintendent of Schools
  • May 24, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community, 

    At the Board of Education meeting on May 3, based on my recommendation, John Fratto was appointed to the tenure-track position of assistant principal at Carmel High School. John’s appointment fills the vacancy that was created when John Fink became the district’s Assistant Superintendent for Business earlier this year. 

    John will join our district on June 6, 2022, and comes to us with extensive knowledge as a teacher and educational leader. As an educational leader, John has a comprehensive background in research-supported practices for curriculum, instruction, and assessment in order to develop and sustain rigorous standard-based, data-driven educational programs that encourage and enable all students to be successful learners. 

    He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History from SUNY Buffalo and Master of Adolescent Education from Canisius College where he was also certified as a teacher of social studies for Grades 7-12. For the first seven years of his career, John taught social studies in Monticello Central School District and Beacon School District, where he brought his knowledge base of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework, taught inclusion classes and was a student council coordinator. 

    In using his teaching experiences as his foundation, John continued his career as assistant principal at F. D. Roosevelt High School in Hyde Park. Over the past two years, John has gained experience as the School Safety Coordinator where he partnered with the district safety team to advance the district wide safety plan and align the school’s protocols with the State Education Department. John also supported and launched programs such as the F. D. Roosevelt National Honor Society Peer Tutoring Program. 

    We are excited for John to join the administrative team in the Carmel Central School District, and we look forward to working with him to advance our district in new directions. As always, please feel free to reach out to my office with any questions. 

    Sincerely, 

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools 

    Superintendent of Schools
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