Dr. Ahern: Putting the ‘Super’ in Superintendent

Devyn Forcina, Editor

“I want everyone to know that I want to know about their experience at, and about, Franklin public schools”, says Dr. Sara Ahern, the new superintendent of Franklin Public Schools. Dr. Ahern is a passionate, caring, and enthusiastic educator who I had the pleasure of interviewing last week. In this article, you can learn more about our new superintendent.


Before Franklin

Dr. Ahern did not start her career as an educator. Rather, she was a science researcher for cell biology mitosis. However, she found lab work was not where her heart was.She decided to teach, and began substitute teaching for chemistry and biology classes. Then she became a teacher in Lynfield, then a teacher, department head, then assistant principal in Shrewsbury.

Some of her favorite moments from teaching were taking students hiking at Mt. Monadnock each autumn. These were students who were not well connected to school and struggled academically. The importance of the hike, Dr. Ahern describes, was the students setting goals. She enjoyed spending time with the students in a different way than just being in the classroom.

Afterward, she became the assistant superintendent for Holliston, where she held the position for six years before coming to Franklin.


Goals and Thoughts as Superintendent

Speaking to the difference between Holliston and Franklin, Dr. Ahern notes, “I’m surprised at how quickly I’m experiencing this community feel.” She feels as though she is already forming close relationships and getting to know students and their families within the town, which is twice the size of Holliston.

She feels very welcomed by Franklin, and appreciates the level of investment and turnout in parent and community forums. Indicating a desire for student achievement, these large audiences support growth academically, socially, in emotional skills, arts, and athletics. “These are all very positive things about the district.”

Initially, Dr. Ahern’s goal for Franklin is to build relationships across the district, and build long term goals from there.

Furthermore, Dr. Ahern chose to be superintendent in this specific town, especially because people want to continue to improve and refine what we already have. She always wants to improve herself as a person, and she likes that other people are seeking to do so, as well.


Outside of School

Dr. Ahern was inspired to enter the field of education by her fourth grade teacher Mrs. Naden.  She let Dr. Ahern bring home the teacher’s edition of the reading book. Using the book, she played school at home with her brother. “I loved it”, she remembers, “it was something I always enjoyed.”

She grew up in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, a suburb of Philadelphia, which presented a community feel like Franklin does. There, she got to play sports and have many opportunities.

Her undergraduate degree is from University of Virginia. She got her Masters at UMass Worcester and her Doctorate at Boston College.

Apart from her work life, Dr. Ahern enjoys skiing, hiking and golfing with her husband and stepdaughters, who are twelve and fourteen. Her family spends time on the Cape, specifically in Dennis.

A few quick fun facts about Dr. Ahern: her favorite book is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, her favorite movie is Cold Mountain, her favorite food is chicken salad, and her favorite sports teams are the Patriots, Virginia Cavaliers basketball team, and the Franklin Panthers.

I’d like to end the article with Dr. Ahern’s advice for the students of FHS, because of its importance to each and every student. She was inspired by the words of Rob Evans, a psychologist and educational leader.

“Think of the answers to these three questions. What do I like? What am I good at? And, what does the world need me to do? If you can look at the three questions it’s a lot easier to be resilient and have persistence if it’s something you like, are good at, and the world needs you to do.”