Johnstown-Monroe Local Schools’ interim superintendent returned home from Riverside Methodist Hospital on Tuesday, Sept. 17, and he’s expected to be back at the office within weeks, following surgery from a blood clot on the brain.
Johnstown treasurer Tammy Woods said the medical condition caused Thomas Slater to strike a bridge pillar on Sharon Valley Road while driving near Township Road 127 the evening of Sept. 3.
“His neighbor was in a car behind him, and an EMT was in another car,” she said. “He was just turning onto his road. His golf buddy and an EMT were there and knew to call LifeFlight. Before the squad was even there, he called LifeFlight.
“He got to Riverside, and the head of neurosurgery was on that day,” Woods said. “We’re so thankful. I keep telling him he had a herd of angels.”
Slater, 71, had been listed in critical condition on Sept. 4 but was stable by Sept. 5.
“It was a grave condition, and the second day he was fluttering his eyes,” Woods said. “By the third day, he followed directives and then the next day he was like, ‘Where am I?’ He wanted his phone to call the schools. He’s a superintendent to the core.”
Woods said the administrative office staff has been operating as if Slater were at a conference.
“It's the beginning of the school year, and principals are carrying on business as usual,” she said. “The kids didn’t need to know anything different. It hasn’t affected kids. The county superintendent is available if needed. We’re carrying on as if he’s at a conference. It has been calm.”
Woods has visited Slater regularly, she said, keeping him advised of school business, including the Sept. 16 board meeting.
“He’s very anxious to get back to work,” she said. “He would be here today if his wife and doctor would let him. Brain-wise, he’s ready to come back, but body-wise, he needs to rest. I’ve been keeping him in the loop.”
Slater has been working as Johnstown-Monroe’s interim superintendent since March 1. In June, the board voted to extend his contract for another year to July 1, 2014, while the district seeks a permanent replacement for former superintendent Damien Bawn, who retired in February.
Slater previously served as superintendent of the North Fork Local Schools for 12 years.