Superintendent Mr. Schwarz Joins Dodger Country

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Anastasia Elefante

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Prom Updates 2017
December 6, 2017
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Superintendent Mr. Schwarz meets with Board of Education and journalism class to discuss potential changes in the Madison District.

Superintendent Mr. Schwarz meets with Board of Education and journalism class to discuss potential changes in the Madison District.

Sam Grobert

Sam Grobert

Superintendent Mr. Schwarz meets with Board of Education and journalism class to discuss potential changes in the Madison District.

As the 2017-2018 school year begins and new students roll in, MHS is joined by two new staff members: vice principal Mr. Drechsel and superintendent Mr. Schwarz. Curious about Madison High School’s new figures of authority, Madison Dodger Online (MDO)  interviewed Mr. Schwarz (MS) about his aims for the upcoming school year on September 15, 2017.

MDO:  What do you think of Madison so far?

MS: Madison is a great community. It’s such a nice, tight-knit town, there’s a beautiful downtown area, and everyone is relatively close to each other. I  imagine being a kid here would be a blast in that everyone is so close. There’s so much to do nearby, you can get to the city on the train in no time, it’s just a great place. The reputation of the staff and the students is really excellent as well.

MDO: What long-term changes are you most looking forward to working towards for the Madison District?

MS: There are some specific directions that I think we should pursue. But, it’s not just my recommendations or ideas, it’s the sentiment of the administration team as well. We want to be able to offer more course offerings to the high school students, we want to be able to provide better services and more thorough monitoring of student progress all throughout their early years, we want to have a more whole child approach where we’re focusing on all of the child’s needs, not just specifically their academic learning needs. As I’m saying this, there’s already many pieces in motion. In terms of what I want to do that is specifically something I want to do, it is to shift the culture of how the school district should operate and the role it should play in the community. I believe that the school district as a whole should be really connected with all aspects of the community. Very frequently, those districts themselves see themselves as a separate entity from the bureau, when in reality, although legally there is some separation, we all serve the same community and the schools are probably the single greatest unifying structure within any community. And as such, I feel as though that comes with great sense of responsibility to be excellent communicators, to be very transparent, to be highly participative for parents and students, so that it truly reflects the community. How we educate children should be a reflection of all the values of the community, and vice versa, the great things we do in the schools will enhance the community as well. So I see it as a reciprocal relationship, which too often is lost when you bifurcate schools and everything else.

MDO: What specific values should the schools and the community be upholding?

MS: Well as I mentioned, transparency, inclusiveness, you could look at that through the lense of communicating through the parents with the community, or with involving students in their education, we should be listening to them and they should be a part of that process. Furthermore, the inclusiveness is something that needs to be a constant focus in schools because we live in a complicated society and no community is without its own internal divisions; we are only as good as people are when we come together, so as a school community, one of the most important values that we need to keep constantly on our forefront is the idea of inclusiveness. We are not here to divide the community, we don’t want to divide our students in the same way that we don’t want to divide our neighbors up into different classifications and groups. We are Madison, we are dodgers, and we should bring everyone together so that all parties are included. An inclusive model benefits everyone.

MDO: As the new superintendent of the Madison District, what goals would you like the students and staff to achieve this year?

MS: That’s a difficult question to answer because there are so many pieces to the puzzle. My model of change is not based on my direction; I feel as though my responsibility as the superintendent, as the chief of the schools, is to create the preconditions so that way our stakeholders, that we are able to come together and create a common vision, and that I and the Board of Education would be the custodian of that vision. So there being an idea of a personal agenda or a private agenda, driving the education of our students, the Board and I would be given the responsibility of fostering and providing for and making a reality of the dream of our collective vision. In so far as your question, my plan is to set the preconditions for that, so that includes building relationships with our stakeholders, and instilling some basic core values and beliefs about what we are able to do, and the importance of coming together and not dividing ourselves through factionalism and negative talk. It’s important to avoid dichotomous thinking, avoid the trap of pitting one group against the other, like special education vs. general education, or athletics vs. academics, or the arts vs. STEM. Every learning that we have enhances the other, that’s the model that we should be looking at, because it’s really not about departments, it’s about kids. We’re trying to build the most well-rounded children and adults that we possibly can. My mission for the community is to gather as much information as I can to be able to give to the community a true and accurate assessment of what our current state of existence is, that way we truly can a gree upon what our starting point is, and then from there we can determine a course of action. We want to have the conversation about the values and our vision before we make those decisions, or else the community will split right down the middle.

MDO:  What would you like the Madison community to know about you?

MS: I would like everyone to know that I sincerely believe that we need to celebrate the fact that we are one community, and that we are stronger together, and that all voices really matter, and that only if we use our collective wisdom and intelligence can we then drive towards the futures that the Madison schools provide a world-class education for every student. Technically we already do, but I would like our community to be so united in purpose, that the end result from our collective work is that we are the leaders in the nation and in the world in innovative practices and education. I believe we can do it without a doubt. You strive for perfection and you settle on excellence. As long as we recognize that it’s about the journey and not the destination, although we fight for a destination but we might not arrive there, it’s about the path of growth and the students are involved in that journey. The parents and the town officials are involved in that journey, we’re all involved in that journey because we are all one community.

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