New school leader ready to start work

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Brookhaven School District’s board of trustees, students,faculty and staff will be learning the face of the newest Pantherbeginning Tuesday as Dr. Lisa Karmacharya starts her reign assuperintendent.

The former Hattiesburg School District veteran was named theBrookhaven School District’s next superintendent in January after afive-month search to replace current Superintendent Lea Barrett,who announced her retirement in August.

Since being hired, Karmacharya has made a few trips to the areaand has begun to acclimate herself to Brookhaven. The incomingsuperintendent is giving real meaning to Homeseekers Paradise asshe has been working to sell her home in Hattiesburg and has beenshopping around town for some new digs. Karmacharya also met a fewschool officials and area residents at the Junior Auxiliary eventReality Town and attended a recent school board meeting.

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“I kind of feel like a fish out of water right now, I’m a workerbee,” said Karmacharya. “I’m ready to get my hands dirty and get towork.”

Karmacharya has worked in the Rankin County and Columbusmunicipal school systems and is finishing her stint with theHattiesburg School District, where she has worked for the past nineyears. Karmacharya’s resume boasts 18 years in education inpositions that include principal, assistant principal and specialeducation teacher.

“Just about every position you can hold outside ofsuperintendent in central office, I think I have done – with theexception of personal and child nutrition,” said Karmacharya. “Ihave worked extensively with curriculum and elementary andsecondary (education).”

Karmacharya has attended several of Mississippi’s institutionsof higher learning. She received her B.S. in Special Education fromOle Miss, her master’s degree in Supervision of Instruction fromMississippi College and Specialists Degree in Education andDoctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of SouthernMississippi.

“I definitely consider myself a Mississippi girl,” saidKarmacharya.

Karmacharya said her love for education started while attendingBrandon High School. While working with a blind girl for acommunity project at the Mississippi School of the Blind,Karmacharya said she knew she wanted to work with children.

“I can still see her little face,” said Karmacharya.

Karmacharya admitted that the opportunity to advance her careerwas what piqued her interest in Brookhaven, but after discoveringits Southern charm and looking into the school district – she wassold.

“It was so clear to me from the very first day I got there thatthey had the things to be successful,” said Karmacharya. “I said Ican be a part of that system, I want to be a part of thatsystem.”

Karmacharya added that she was impressed with support thecommunity has for the school district. She said successful schoolsneed the support of their community.

“You know that everybody (in Brookhaven) is about the schoolsystem and everybody is prepared to support the school system,” shesaid. “When you know you have the community behind you, you canmake great strides.”

While Karmacharya said there is always room for development, shewanted to wait until she was more knowledgeable of the schooldistrict before pinpointing any areas of needed improvement.However, she said she hopes to foster the parental involvement thatis already in place and bring new ways of analyzing data to theschool district.

Karmacharya mentioned that she is not opposed to new innovativeideas, but her educational philosophies are based in looking atresearch.

“When you go out and try to jump on every band wagon that comesalong, it is not fair to (students) because there is no proof thatit is going to work,” said Karmacharya. “Time is not our friend ineducation and no child deserves an experiment.”

The new superintendent hopes to elevate Brookhaven schools tostar status, which is the highest rating a school can obtain basedon the current accountability model.

“If you have star schools and a star district, (parents) aregoing to say, ‘That’s where I want to send my child because that’swhere they’ll get the best educational opportunities.'”

When she is not working to improve the quality of education forstudents, Karmacharya said she enjoys being outdoors, painting,participating in theater and spending time with her husband, Anjan,and son, Garrett.

“I like being a part of the community,” said Karmacharya.