Making an impact: Looking back on Spielbauer’s career at CASD


Kate Muir/Lifetouch

LEAVING THE HERD: CASD Superintendent Christina Spielbauer will be leaving for a new position with New Story Schools and River Rock Academy. Her position will be filled temporarily by acting superintendent Patricia Sanker, formerly of South Middleton School District.

After four and a half years as Superintendent of the Carlisle Area School District, Ms. Christina Spielbauer will be taking a new job as Senior Vice President in charge of education at New Story Schools and River Rock Academy.

“I don’t think I started my teaching career ever imagining that I would be here today,” Spielbauer said, “but as I moved up through different positions, I wanted to be able to make a bigger impact for all of the students and staff that I serve.”

After completing a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education at Duquesne University, Spielbauer began her career teaching at Wilson Middle School.  As a learning support teacher, she taught 7th and 8th-grade students English and math for her first year, then taught all core classes.

“I knew I wanted to get into administration probably early on in my teaching career,” Spielbauer said.  “I had a wonderful assistant director of special education, Rita Warren, and I really enjoyed watching her in her position and all that she supervised.”

This inspired Spielbauer to pursue her master’s degree in education at Shippensburg University.  Along with her master’s, Spielbauer completed a K-12 special education supervisory certification, as well as a K-12 principal certification.

“While I was signing up for classes, Dr. Stankus encouraged me to also get a principal certification because I could double-dip the classes, so I agreed, not thinking that I would ever be a principal,” Spielbauer said. “Then a year and a half later, I landed in an assistant principal role.”

Spielbauer was assistant principal of Wilson Middle School for two and a half years.  Then, “an opportunity came up at Northeastern School District.”

Wanting to get back to special education, “really where [her] heart is,” she took the position of Assistant Director of Special Education in the district for two years.  When she received a call that the position of Director of Special Education for CASD was open, she “jumped at the opportunity to be able to come back.”

She held the position of Director of Special Education for about three years before she was promoted to CASD’s Assistant Superintendent.  After seven years as Assistant Superintendent, she was promoted again to Superintendent.

In her positions prior to Superintendent, Spielbauer appreciated having “the privilege of working with so many different people.  It taught me how to work with a variety of people and different beliefs.  Especially in the special education world, you’re really trying to balance the needs of the student with the beliefs of the school district, but also the beliefs of the family.  Sometimes they don’t always align, but [it’s] trying to find that common ground to help find a plan that will support the student.”

It’s very important to be willing to listen and truly hear what [others are] saying.  It might not be easy but I think it’s important that we try to understand where people are coming from.

— Christina Spielbauer, CASD superintendent

During her time in the district, Spielbauer is most proud of “cultivating and building positive relationships.”  She believes “relationships are the foundation of any organization and if you don’t have a strong relationship between students and teachers, and students and their principals, and teachers and administrators, and administrators and families I think you have a district that struggles.”

Spielbauer also offered advice for building relationships.

“Be open to listening to different perspectives, and value and support one another,” Spielbauer said.  “We may not always agree on everything, but work together to find some type of common ground where we can move forward from.  I think if we are narrow-minded and don’t hear the thoughts and ideas from different perspectives, that can hurt an organization.  It’s very important to be willing to listen and truly hear what that person is saying.  It might not be easy but I think it’s important that we try to understand where people are coming from.”

In leaving CASD, she will miss “the wonderful people [she has] had the pleasure of serving throughout [her] entire career,” and says that “that’s going to be the hardest part of leaving.”

While it’s going to be difficult to leave the relationships she’s made in CASD, she is excited to get back to special education while helping students across the whole commonwealth.

“It’s always been an area of passion for me and it’s where I started my teaching career so I’m excited to get back to that,” Spielbauer said.

After Spielbauer’s official last day on December 31, Patricia B. Sanker will become Acting Superintendent.  The Board’s goal is to have a new Superintendent by July 1, 2022.