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With the announcement Mauston Superintendent Dr. Christine Weymouth would be retiring after this school year, the Mauston school board has been searching for her successor.

The school board consulted with Big River Group, LLC and selected four finalists to meet with community members and take questions at the district building Feb. 5.

Waupaca School Superintendent Greg Nyen, who graduated from Mauston High School 31 years ago, said as superintendent he plans to take a hands on approach.

“You’re going to see me in the classrooms,” Nyen said.

Nyen said during his career in education, he has worked with students who “had barriers to learning,” and tried to ensure they were helped as much as possible.

“We know as a community that it’s important those students graduate,” Nyen said. “We want them to be the greatest contributors to the community as possible.”

To devise strategies for success at Waupaca, Nyen said the school “started with our student achievement data, and then we went from there.”

Menomonie High School Principal David Muñoz said he seeks to establish and maintain a “continuous improvement model” at the schools he has worked at.

The responsibility for teachers to set examples does not stop at the classroom, Muñoz said.

“We’re leaders and role models, and I don’t try to dodge from it,” Muñoz said.

The goals he set for the Mauston School District, which were modeled after Sun Prairie Superintendent Dr. Brad Saron’s, are “effective district governance, positive relations between (the) district office and all schools, earning public trust and confidence, supporting organizational effectiveness, (and) fostering a collaborative and meaningful district-wide climate.”

Muñoz described his leadership style as synergetic.

“I’m not a top-down leader, I’m a collaborative leader,” Muñoz said.

Hillsboro School Superintendent Curt Bisarek said school districts should focus on retaining “the highest quality individuals,” and equipping students for a successful post-high-school life, whether it be pursuing a four year degree, tech school or the world of work.

“In a small school, you have no choice but to be hands-on,” Bisarek said. “(It) solves a lot of problems if you have relationships with the students.”

Bisarek said he is particularly proud of the Hillsboro Excellence in Education Foundation, that he helped form in 2011. The foundation provides between $5,000 and $6,000 in scholarships and $5,000 to $6,000 in grants every year.

Bisarek said turnover can be a challenge for schools, especially when replacing longtime teachers with new ones.

Mauston High School Assistant Principal Joel Heesch said he was particularly proud of Mauston’s Fab Lab, where students are able to learn how to operate advanced machinery and acquire career skills.

“In a four year period we were able to say we had a completed Fab Lab with $200,000 of equipment,” Heesch said.

The district invested $20,000 in the Fab Lab, while the rest came from donations and grants, Heesch said.

The impact of teachers on students’ lives was something Heesch emphasized as vital to ensuring a positive experience during formative years.

“Behind the parental influence at home, the next greatest influence is teachers,” Heesch said.

Like Nyen, Mauston is Heesch’s hometown. “This is home,” Heesch said.

“A lot of my day is about unique (education) pathways,” Heesch said. “Mauston High School does a great job helping kids down the pathway they choose.”

You can reach Jake Ekdahl on Twitter @JakeaEkdahl or contact him at 608-697-6353

Reporter

Juneau County Star-Times reporter