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Rhode Island School Superintendents' Association

Karen Tarasevich, Superintendent in West Warwick, Selected as 2018 Rhode Island Superintendent of the Year

14 Sep 2017 2:23 PM | Tom DiPaola (Administrator)

Ms. Karen Tarasevich, Superintendent of the West Warwick Public Schools, has been chosen as the 2018 Rhode Island Superintendent of the Year. Her selection by the Rhode Island School Superintendents' Association (RISSA) was announced at its General Membership Meeting on August 16, 2017. The ovation accorded to Ms.Tarasevich by her colleagues was an indication of the high esteem in which she is held. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in school district leadership, dedication to the education of all children, commitment to the community, and service to RISSA. The award was presented to Karen by Dr. Kristen Stringfellow, Superintendent of the South Kingstown Public Schools, winner of the 2017 Superintendent of the Year award and RISSA President. In addition to her fellow administrators, Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner, Karen’s husband Paul and friend Maribeth Williamson were in attendance. 

Ms. Tarasevich has served as the Superintendent in West Warwick since 2013. She previously served as the high school principal in West Warwick. Prior to that she served as the Associate Principal of Secondary Schools in West Warwick, and she was a middle school and high school English teacher in Narragansett. 

Karen was recognized by President Obama at the White House in November 2014 for West Warwick Public School’s commitment to Future Ready learning and technology integration in education (one of 100 Superintendents chosen nationally). 

Karen served as a presenter at the RI Innovation Technology Conference in 2014, 2015 and 2016. She has served on the Ridley Lowell Technical Institute Advisory Board since 2014 and was the keynote speaker at the Institute’s inaugural graduation. She was invited to present at the National Conference on Labor Management in Washington DC in September of 2015. U.S. Department of Education Secretary, John King, and Governor Gina Raimondo visited West Warwick High School in December of 2016 when West Warwick High School was chosen as a model example of computer science programming and implementation. Karen is the author of “Blended learning in West Warwick and the Rewards of Reaching 1:1 Ratio” published in the Blended Chronicle, 2016. 

Under her leadership, the district has taken on numerous initiatives. They increased the graduation rate by 19% in 4 years. Students make consistent gains in standardized testing scores in English Language Arts and Mathematics. They implemented an intensive Dropout Prevention Initiative and transition program. They created a proficiency based summer school and engaged in credit retrieval and ramp up opportunities for students. They implemented Lab Classrooms across the district and West Warwick students received state and national recognition from NEEDS Science Renewable Energy Association and SKILLS USA. 

Karen has been an active member of RISSA serving as Secretary, Executive Committee member since 2013. She currently serves as the Vice-President of RISSA. 

Ms. Tarasevich received her Bachelor’s degrees in Secondary Education with a minor in English from the University of Rhode Island. She received her Master’s degree from Providence College in School Administration. 

Karen and her husband Paul reside in South Kingstown with their children Paul and Joe. She is a lifelong Rhode Island resident. Karen is beginning her 18th year in education and her 5th year as Superintendent of Schools. 

Karen Tarasevich will be honored by the American Association of School Administrators at the National Conference on Education to be held in Nashville, TN in February, 2017.


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