Northshire Day School leader to step down
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | November 30,2012
MANCHESTER — After almost 20 years at the Northshire Day School, most of it as the executive director, Carol Kern will be stepping down next year.
The school, which will mark its 45th anniversary next year, is the largest day-care provider in the Manchester area. During Kern’s time as executive director, the school raised $4.5 million for a major expansion and more than doubled the number of children and employees.
Kern, who has a degree in business management, is originally from New Jersey but came to Vermont in 1984. Ten years after moving to the area, she started work at the Northshire as the office manager and got the job as executive director two years later.
On Wednesday, Kern said one of her proudest achievements at the school was overseeing the capital campaign that began in 2001.
In 1971, the school received a donation of a split-level private home. The building served the needs for decades but in 2001, administrators at the school began to feel the limits of their space. Kern said an economic committee in Manchester at the time concluded that the need for increased day-care service was one of the top priorities in the area.
Northshire officials began a capital campaign to meet the need. After $4.5 million was raised, ground was broken in 2005 for the new 10,800-square-foot building on Main Street, which opened the next year and remains the home of the school today.
“I desperately needed a new building and the town needed more child care so I said, ‘You know, I think I can do this.’ We went from a tiny little ranch house on Highland Avenue with 50 children to this new beautiful facility with 110 children. We went from 11 employees to 25,” Kern said.
Kern said there were many volunteers and a development director who helped the campaign.
“We did it. It took a while but it was certainly worth it,” she said.
Kern said other achievements in which she takes prides are special educational programs like the violin lessons provided by the Manchester Music Festival, ecological and nature lessons from the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and Spanish lessons for 3- and 4-year-old children. The school also offered spaghetti dinners, nights out for fathers and mothers and an organic garden that supplies some of the Northshire’s food.
She said she was also pleased that the Northshire has earned four out of five stars from Vermont’s STep Ahead Recognition System, or the STARS program, during her tenure.
“The goal is to get that fifth star before I’m done,” she said.
Administrators have also recently completed a five year strategic plan for the Northshire’s future. Kern said one of its goals is to increase community involvement, especially from parents.
Kern plans to step down next year, which will give her 19 years at the Northshire, 17 of them as executive director. Now that she has a grandchild, she said she decided it was time to spend more time with family and visit her three daughters, all of whom live out of state.
In a letter, John Graf, chairman of Northshire’s board of trustees, said Kern will be missed.
“During her tenure, our school community has benefited from Carol’s commitment to excellence, hard work and devotion to (Northshire Day School) appreciation, because Carol has been such a vital part of the Northshire Day School’s success,” he said.
Kern is expected to work with a search committee to find her successor.