I am honored to have been hired as the Superintendent of Kalamazoo RESA, as Kalamazoo is widely known to be a forward-thinking community with a strong commitment to educating children very well. Thirty years ago, I decided to become an educator because I knew from my own experiences the significant impact educators could have on young people. It may sound cliché to say that educators shape the future, but it is true. After receiving wonderful educational opportunities, challenges, and encouragements from my family, teachers, directors, coaches, and a bus driver, I knew that I wanted to commit my life to trying to give students those type of experiences. After teaching students social studies at the middle school and high school level for a little over three years, I sought administrative positions as I saw the potential to positively impact the culture of a school, district, and community by being in leadership. Over twenty years later, I not only see the potential, but have seen the reality of positive school cultures greatly helping students fulfill their potential. I am proud to have the opportunity to work collaboratively with our constituent schools, institutions of higher education, community organizations, and employers in order to position our students to be ready for the competitive global economy they are entering. Their world is far different than the one most adults entered years ago and Kalamazoo RESA has been and will continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of our students and communities.
Being new to the organization and community, I thought I would introduce myself briefly. I was raised in Pewaukee, Wisconsin and earned a bachelor'sdegree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where I studied history and social studies. I taught middle and high school students history and government in Waukesha, Wisconsin and Bradley Central Junior High School in Bradley, Illinois. I also coached basketball, track, drove a school bus, and coordinated field trips for my students. In 1991, I led a program for urban and rural teenagers living in poverty for Kankakee Community College and became Dean of Students/Athletic Director of Bradley Central. I earned my master's degree in educational leadership from Illinois State University in 1992. I served as the high school principal in Olivet for eight years and eleven as superintendent. It has always been my goal to give students hope and the tools needed to fulfill their dreams and potential. With an amazing team of people, we were able to make Olivet a great place to be a student and educator. We developed numerous partnerships with Olivet College, the Calhoun Intermediate School District and Battle Creek Schools to offer a broad range of options for our students in an effort to give them the knowledge and skills to build and sustain their hope for a bright future despite a vastly changing global economy. In 2011, I became the superintendent of the Livingston Educational Service Agency in Howell. Service agencies (also known as Intermediate School Districts) provide a natural fit for someone who is interested in helping develop collaborative partnerships between educational institutions, non-profits, and the business community. Becoming Superintendent of Kalamazoo RESA is a dream come true for professional and personal reasons (closer to family). My wife, Kathy, is a librarian and I have one daughter who has graduated from college and is working in Chicago, and one daughter in college.
I am very involved with my professional association, the Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA). I have always had a keen interest in government and policy and how they can positively impact people when developed and applied wisely. I have advocated for many reforms over the years to help make schools more relevant for students who are entering an economy that is vastly different than the one that made Michigan the envy of the world. Our students need a higher level of knowledge, skill, and character than was required in the past. Schools play a key role in that development in partnership with families. My involvement in the leadership of MASA opened my eyes to the need for and complexity of educational reform. In August, I will be installed as the President of MASA and am proud to be part of this forward thinking organization.
I have been so impressed with the staff I have met at Kalamazoo RESA and how they perform their jobs with high levels of skill and passion. The assumption of leadership of the Head Start program is an important challenge for Kalamazoo RESA and we are completely committed to helping the youngest students in the county reach their potential by helping prepare them for Kindergarten. Kalamazoo RESA is a leader among Educational Service Agencies/Intermediate School Districts in our state and has numerous assets upon which to build a great future for the children in our county.