Superintendent, principals share enthusiasm as school year approaches
The new Cedar Grove-Belgium School District administrative team said it‚Äôs preparing to lead students, staff and parents into the future with enthusiasm and a willingness to get the district‚Äôs name out in the community.
Led by Supt. Jeanne Courneene, the former Cedar Grove-Belgium Middle School principal, the team, which includes High School Principal Josh Ketterhagen, Middle School Principal Jodi Swagel, Elementary School Principal
Kristin Johnson, Director of Pupil Services Jason Gahan and Business Director Kris DeBruine, is just days away from the start of the 2014-15 school year.
Johnson and Swagel are new to the district, but are pleased with where their respective schools and the district are headed.
‚ÄúI am most excited and pleased about the amount of collaboration and teamwork that has taken place amongst our new leadership team in the last month,‚ÄĚ Johnson, who previously taught in Manitowoc, said.
‚ÄúWe have very similar goals and educational philosophies and are really enjoying being able to bounce ideas off of one another and work together to achieve our ultimate mission to provide superior education to all students.‚ÄĚ
Swagel, a former Thomas Jefferson Middle School teacher in Port Washington, agreed, saying the ‚Äúenergy, optimism and commitment of the administrative team is exciting.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIn a short amount of time we have established a high level of trust in each other, which speaks to the leadership and focus of Dr. Courneene.‚ÄĚ
Ketterhagen, who is entering his 17th year in the district and first full year as principal, said the group‚Äôs ability to work together is what is helping to smooth the transition after the retirement of Supt. Steve Shaw and resignation of Elementary School Principal Craig Gunderson, who took a position in the Grafton School District.
‚ÄúI am excited with how willing we are to learn from each other, help each other out, offer support and work together,‚ÄĚ Ketterhagen said.
With issues facing schools in Wisconsin varying from Common Core standards to the implementation of new Smarter Balance Assessment tests, the district appears to have its hands full.
But that‚Äôs not how Courneene sees it.
The group participated in what she called a ‚Äúnew leader assimilation‚ÄĚ that ‚Äúfacilitated a more rapid development of a strong, positive working relationship between me and members of the leadership team.‚ÄĚ
Johnson and Swagel‚Äôs new positions call for more leadership than they‚Äôve had before. Both appear to be up to the challenge.
Swagel said the biggest difference going from a teacher to being in charge of an entire school is looking at the organization from a global or wide lens perspective, not just a department.
‚ÄúI need to take time to reflect on the process,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI have to build positive, trusting relationships with teachers, students, parents and community members.‚ÄĚ
She noted the district has to continue to focus on literacy being the driving force for student achievement.
Johnson likes being able to have a bigger impact on education in her new role and is excited to get into classrooms and observe what is going on in the entire school.
‚ÄúI want to get to know the parents, students and the community as the school year starts and to continue to see what it is that everyone loves about this district,‚ÄĚ Johnson said.
Ketterhagen wants to continue to ‚Äúinstill a positive feel in our staff in all that we do, even in the tough times.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI would like for those who enter our high school doors to feel our pride or ‚Äėschool spirit‚Äô and feel the positive climate in our school,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúI want to be able to make our district a place where all feel welcome and supported to learn and grow.‚ÄĚ
Image information: THE NEW ADMINISTRATIVE team at the Cedar Grove-Belgium School District (from left) Elementary Principal Kristin Johnson, High School Principal Josh Ketterhagen, Supt. Jeanne Courneene and Middle School Principal Jodi Swagel are eager to welcome back students on Sept. 2. Photo by Sam Arendt