Northern Ozaukee School District Supt. Blake Peuse is taking part in a pilot program that could change the way school administrators from around the country prepare for their jobs.
Peuse is one of 28 school superintendents taking part in the National Superintendent Certification Program, which is sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators and the National School Boards Association.
Financial support for the two-year program is being provided by business and corporate backers.
The curriculum puts a focus on instructional leadership, budgeting, mastering political skills, tapping into 21st century technology, managing school board relations and developing a career path.
Daniel Domenech, executive director of the AASA, said the certification program is an acknowledgement of how complex the role of school administrator has become.
“In today’s world, a superintendent must not only be an instructional leader, but a CEO and community leader as well,” Domenech said.
“To be effective today, superintendents must have talents and abilities that extend way beyond the management of curriculum and instruction. We have designed the (certification) program to prepare new superintendents for this sometimes daunting job.”
In his second year leading the Northern Ozaukee School District, Peuse is a good fit for the program which is intended for administrators with less than five years of experience.
The competitive application process drew 80 candidates.
“I had a conversation with Board President Paul Krause about the process and we agreed that it would be worth applying for,” Peuse said.
Peuse attended the program’s opening session in San Diego in July, and expects to have his national certification when the inaugural program wraps up in February 2015.
Peuse has two mentors working with him — master teacher Vince Matthews, superintendent of the San Jose Unified School District in California, and Michael Hinojosa, superintendent of Cobb County Schools in Georgia.
He said he is gaining valuable insights in working with administrators from all over the country.
“There are superintendents from school districts as small as 200 students up to school districts of over 23,000,” Peuse said.
“There are many different levels of socioeconomic status, racial and ethnic diversity and educational progress. There is a tremendous amount of give-and-take from all of the superintendents and we communicate fairly regularly about techniques that work well, how we handle different situations and how we can help one another become better leaders and move our schools to greatness.”
Peuse said the program will be worth the extra effort if the district sees him grow as an educational leader.
“The biggest gain for our district is the validation and collaboration of our work that is being done,” he said.
Peuse said the skills he expects to hone during the certification process will help in the collaborative effort to implement the state’s Common Core standards, educator effectiveness evaluations and the Response to Intervention program.
“In order to affect real change in education, we have developed a set of plans, broken out into 100-day and 200-day time frames to ensure that we are making great progress with this very important work,” he said.
“Additionally, we now have a larger network of people from which we can communicate and collaborate, making this work easier because we do not have to reinvent everything. There are some tried and true models out there and we have benefited from other superintendents and school districts within this certification process.”
Peuse said the best-practices insights he gains from working with other superintendents should pay off with the implementation of the new initiatives and educational gains by NOSD students.
“In short, as our students do better, I am more personally fulfilled, but not complacent to settle for good results — we need great results — to see this progress,” he said.
Prior to taking over as superintendent in Northern Ozaukee, Peuse was principal at New Berlin West High School. Before that, he was principal at Brown Deer Middle School for three years, principal at Deer Creek Intermediate School in St. Francis for two years, assistant middle school principal in Waupun for three years, and a physical education teacher and athletic director at Asa Clark Middle School in Pewaukee.
Peuse has a master’s degree in education from Marian College in Fond du Lac and completed his state superintendent certification in 2011.