New Mahar, Union 73 Superintendent Teahan-Zielinski loves regionals  

  • Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Teahan-Zielinski of the Ralph C. Mahar Regional and Union 73 school districts in her office. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Teahan-Zielinski of the Ralph C. Mahar Regional and Union 73 school districts in her office. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/10/2020 1:04:59 PM

ORANGE – The Ralph C. Mahar Regional and Union 73 school districts, and the world at large, could not have imagined COVID-19 a year ago. And Dr. Elizabeth Teahan-Zielinski could not have predicted should would take over a superintendent position amid a global pandemic.

But, she said, any incoming superintendent is presented with new challenges.

“This one is affecting every district. At least I’m not facing it alone,” she said this week. “I’m in good company.”

Teahan-Zielinski became superintendent about a month ago, replacing Tari Thomas, who has left for the White Mountains region of New Hampshire to serve one year as the interim superintendent for the five school districts of SAU 35 (School Administrative Unit). The new superintendent said Thomas was a good steward for the districts.

“There’s so much I want to accomplish,” Teahan-Zielinski said. “I think that part of my goal is also to assist the communities and providing more development for the students in the future.”

She said the mark a good school system is when graduates go off into the world for college, the military or the workforce and return to settle down and possibly start a family in their hometown because they know the community and its educational institutions are quality.

Teahan-Zielinski, 53, grew up in Agawam and earned a bachelor’s degree from the college of Our Lady of the Elms in Chicopee before getting a master’s from Lesley University in Cambridge. She eventually earned a second master’s degree she described as similar to a certification from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and then a doctorate from Boston College in 2005.

Most immediately, Teahan-Zielinski was superintendent of Oxford Public Schools for about two years after she served the same role in the King Philip Regional School District, where she worked for eight years. Before that, she was the assistant superintendent of the Quaboag Regional School District.

Teahan-Zielinksi, who lives in Ludlow, said she came to Orange because of her love of regional school districts. She said she enjoys working with the multiple boards and hear different opinions from the various towns.

The Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District serves grades seven through 12 in Orange, New Salem, Wendell and Petersham. Union 73 consists of Orange Elementary and Petersham Center schools.

“It’s actually a lot of fun,” she said, adding that bringing together student from different communities helps to broaden their horizons.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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