Carmel Clay Schools board member Pam Knowles has announced she will retire from her position Sept. 13, the date the board is next scheduled to hold a public meeting.
Knowles has been on the board since 2010 and before that served as an educator in the district from 1977 to 2009. After nearly 45 years of service to Carmel students, she said it’s the right time “to start a new path” in life.
“I wanted to make sure we got redistricting done and we got our two new schools online,” Knowles said. “I also wanted to make sure we had our superintendent in place (with a new contract).”
With those items complete, Knowles, 71, said the board is in a good position to replace her. Knowles’ successor will be selected by a vote of the board from among applicants who live in District 2, which stretches across central Carmel between 116th and Main streets and also includes the area north of Main Street and west of Ditch Road. Knowles’ term was set to end in 2022.
Knowles said recent criticism of the school board and CCS administrators over the district’s diversity initiatives, COVID-19 measures and other matters did not play a role in her decision to step down.
Among her greatest accomplishments on the school board, Knowles listed the hiring of Supt. Michael Beresford and completing a multi-year project to consolidate and update the district’s many policies. She said working through the closure of Orchard Park Elementary was one of her most difficult experiences during her tenure.
“That was not an easy thing to do, but I’m very proud of the new schools we just opened,” said Knowles, who worked at Orchard Park for many years before retiring in 2009.
With more time on her hands, Knowles plans to spend more time with her family, visit Florida more often and increase her volunteer work. She also hopes to have time to write a sequel to her young adult book, “Unexpected Detour,” which she wrote and self-published during the pandemic.
In a statement released by CCS, Beresford thanked Knowles for her decades of service to Carmel students and families.
“Her dedication and enthusiasm as an elementary school teacher made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of students,” he stated. “Her service to the board has been outstanding, and she leaves behind a great legacy of service to our community and ensuring our schools remain wonderful places for students to learn and grow. We will miss her questions that kept us on our toes, her insights as a classroom teacher and her infectious smile and laughter.”