Dr. Mark Hansen has served as Superintendent for the award-winning Elmbrook School District since 2012. Prior to his current role he served as Chief Academic Officer, Assistant Superintendent, Principal, Associate Principal and Teacher for the School Districts of Pewaukee, Waukesha and Brown Deer. In 2006, he was named Wisconsin High School Principal of the Year and was one of three finalists for National Principal of the Year. Over his career, he has been known as an innovator and risk taker, including leading the establishment of two charter schools that emphasize career preparation in engineering and health care. His passion is to create systems and leaders that embrace the motto, “Every Student, Every Time, All the Time.”
Dr. Dana Monogue has been the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning for the award-winning Elmbrook School District since 2012. She previously served as a Middle School Principal and Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction for the School District of Waukesha. Over her administrative career, she has led a variety of projects including the redesign of a middle school model and the design and implementation of a STEM school. Dana’s passion lies in establishing teacher leadership models that encourage shared leadership and ownership of transformative initiatives in public education.
GETTING TO KNOW MARK AND DANA
Looking back at your career, what is one thing that a parent, student or peer has said makes you unique as a teacher?
My motto is every student, every time, all the time.
I am a really good listener, and I have always gone by the motto seek first to understand and then be understood, which is an important tool for me.
When and why did you decide to move into a leadership role?
I had the chance to work for an amazing mentor which lead me into a leadership role.
My first principal came to me and encouraged me to go back and receive my masters degree and move onto a leadership role.
What about leading gives you the greatest fulfillment?
I get my greatest motivation is when I am able to help someone connect to their passion, or achieve a goal they thought was unachievable.
Being able to watch students in their light bulb moments and seeing teachers being successful.
Please share with us a story of a time when you got to know a student beyond their academic performance where you think you made a significant impact in their life.
I had one student who was probably not a model student and spent a lot of time with me in the office. Over the course of his time at that school, we developed a deep friendship. After he left middle school and graduated high school, he called me thanking me for helping him through those tough middle school years.
PERSONALIZED LEARNING JOURNEY
What is it about the personalized learning framework you believe will have the greatest impact on education as we know it today?
As we shift from content and move to creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking we can make this journey to teach more than just content.
Can you tell us a story of a time that you persevered through a then-challenging situation which now serves as a great life lesson?
When I was a senior in high school, I wanted to play volleyball at the collegiate level. Because of a very big car accident resulting with a leg injury, I was unable to continue to play. I look back at that moment because I always seem to have a plan but that life experience led me to realize that everything happens for a reason, and you need to trust that things will turn out well.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS
If you’ve transitioned from a traditional command and control classroom to a personalized learning classroom, what about that journey was the most difficult?
Shifting from a teacher centered environment to a student centered environment where the adults give up some sort of control to some degree. Understand that not everything is going to work, you fail forward and get up to try again. You need to have the willingness to accept and respond to feedback.
Imagine you are standing in front of a room full of educators – just like you when you started your personalized learning journey. They too have fears, worries and doubts as they struggle to find their footing. What one strategy would you suggest teachers in personalized learning environments apply every day that would result in powerful outcomes?
“Just start” Find one way you want to think of instruction differently, and you will be amazed what will come afterwards. You just need to trust yourself and the people you work with.
Looking back, what is one thing that you would do differently?
Be a better dad. I had to let my son live his own dreams not the ones I wanted.
Would you please share with our audience your “i am ME.” statements?
i am committed. I am an encourager. I am responsible.
I am a learner. I am interested in better. I am a dad.