Veteran educator Karen MacKinnon, the school district’s new K-8 curriculum director for English language arts and social studies, arrived in Foxboro by an unconventional route.
Hired to replace Susan Shea, who retired last spring after more than 20 years on the job, MacKinnon spent more than a decade in the publishing industry book-ended by separate stints in pre-K and elementary classrooms.
“It’s an interesting year to start a new job, that’s for sure,” MacKinnon told school committee members last week. “For me, this year is really about relationships with teachers,” helping them adjust and modify existing curriculum to fit the school’s hybrid instruction schedule.
Longer-range goals involve adopting a new social studies curriculum and realigning English language at the elementary and middle schools.
“I’m wrapping my head around the existing curriculum and see how I can drive that forward,” she said.
Introduced by Superintendent Amy Berdos, MacKinnon sports an extensive literary background, having worked in publishing in addition to 25 years in elementary education.
“We know we are a destination of choice and we couldn’t be more excited to have Karen join our team in Foxboro,” Berdos said.
A Boston College graduate, MacKinnon initially worked with preschoolers before returning to Lesley University for a graduate degree. She then taught at the kindergarten, first- and second-grade levels before leaving the classroom in order to start a family.
“I felt that as a teacher I really couldn’t do justice to the job and also be the kind of mom that I wanted to be,” she explained.
That led to more than a decade as a per diem publishing consultant, a role which allowed MacKinnon the scheduling flexibility to meet family obligations while still remaining current in education — particularly in the area of literacy, which she described as her passion.
Eventually, she found herself missing the classroom connection and decided to return to teaching — first in Norton, and then in Rockland schools, where she remained for nine years before applying for the Foxboro job.
“I was looking for a change,” said MacKinnon, who lives on the South Shore. “I was looking for a place where I could really collaborate, where there was a sense of teamwork, that I didn’t have in Rockland.”
Hired last spring following a job search coordinated by Burrell School Principal Michelle McCarthy, MacKinnon said she envisioned her role as providing support for classroom teachers, helping them with instruction, as well as assisting with student assessments and lesson plans.
“It’s varied, but I guess I see it as trying to help the teachers deliver the best instruction that they can” in English language arts and social studies, she said.
School Committee member Tina Belanger welcomed MacKinnon to Foxboro schools, adding that if she was seeking a team environment, she came to the right place.
“We’re very proud of our administrative team and how our people work collaboratively,” Belanger said.