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Retiring Klimkiewicz has 'poured her life's work into' Nashoba Tech

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WESTFORD - As her 20th year as superintendent begins, Judith Klimkiewicz has announced that she will be retiring from her post at Nashoba Valley Technical High School this winter.

With Klimkiewicz at the helm, Nashoba Tech has grown from a school with declining enrollment in the 1990s, to a school with nearly 800 students today and increasing enrollment. The school also underwent a complete renovation under her leadership, and obtained the second-highest bond rating with Moody's Investors Service.

With those successes in mind, Klimkiewicz views now as the perfect time to find the next person to lead the school.

"It's time for the new generation to come aboard and begin planning for the next 10 years or so, " Klimkiewicz said Tuesday.

Judith L. Klimkiewicz, the superintendent of Nashoba Valley Technical High School, speaks with students Tuesday, from left, senior Chloe Adler-Mandile (Chelmsford) the student body representative for the School Committee, senior Chelsea Hurst (Pepperell) and junior class President James Miner (Townsend). SUN/JOHN LOVE

During her tenure, the superintendent has created a myriad of new programs, including the engineering academy, veterinary assistant program, the addition of 10 Advanced Placement classes, music, foreign language, dance, and art. Nashoba Tech accepts students from Ayer, Chelmsford, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend and Westford.

"I think the vision was to take a small technical high school that was asleep for probably a decade or two and move it to the 21st century, " Klimkiewicz said.

That vision is something members of the School Committee and the administration at Nashoba Tech believe Klimkiewicz accomplished with great success.

"She has poured her life's work into this, " Principal Denise Pigeon said.

Pigeon started at Nashoba Tech just after Klimkiewicz orchestrated a $25.5 million renovation of the facility that was completed in 2005. Additions to the school and new projects haven't stopped since then.

"Because of her financial efforts, we have a beautiful sports complex, " Jennifer Rhodes, of Shirley, chairwoman of the Nashoba Tech School Committee said.

Klimkiewicz said some of her favorite memories at Nashoba Tech include the ribbon-cutting at the athletic complex, breaking ground on the addition of two wings to the campus, and adding the dental assisting and early education and care programs in the late 1990s.

With all the work done since her start in 1996, Klimkiewicz believes Nashoba Tech offers a top-class technical education.

"Kids are proud to go here, " Rhodes said.

That was clear when the Class of 2015 dedicated its yearbook - on the school's 45th anniversary - to the superintendent.

"She is a visionary, " Rhodes said. "She is demanding, but she is collaborative."

The search for a replacement is in its early stages. Rhodes said the position will be posted this week. The School Committee expects a small pool of applicants.

Klimkiewicz said she will stay on board until her replacement is hired, which will likely be in mid-January.

"We need to find someone who is willing to continue to move the school forward, " Rhodes said.

The position is for a salary in the range of $145, 000 and $175, 000, depending on experience. Klimkiewicz's salary is currently just less than $200, 000, reflective of her 20-year service to the district, Rhodes said.

"She has always been a driving force for continuous school improvement, " Pigeon said.

Served as mentor

Klimkiewicz has also served as a mentor to many in the school, Pigeon said, including herself.

Director of Technology Carol Heidenrich said Klimkiewicz helped her advance from a classroom teacher to her current position.

"Because of her mentoring, that's why I've been so successful in my position, " Heidenrich said.

Though her colleagues are quick to praise her successes, Klimkiewicz said she is thankful for the support she's received from the School Committee, administration, staff, students and parents in sharing a goal of making Nashoba Tech an institution constantly on the brink of improvement.

"I think it's poised to stand tall for the next couple of decades, " Klimkiewicz said. "I'm leaving at a really good place. Everybody is starting off on a good foot."

That idea resonates with Nashoba Tech staff.

"I do think she has set us up for success, " Pigeon said. "She has worked tirelessly to do that."

During retirement, Klimkiewicz said she'll continue to teach doctoral classes and assist Nashoba Tech with anything the school may need.

"I'm very committed to technical education in the commonwealth, " she said.

She also plans to spend time with her family and husband, George.

"I think I might get him to teach me golf, " she said with a laugh.

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