Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Meet Brookwood’s new principal
Schleusner talks focus, goals for school year

by Steve Targo

September 08, 2011

GENOA CITY — Most teachers whose parents were teachers often cite them as the reason they plunged themselves into their careers. Jon Schleusner, the new principal at Brookwood Elementary School, is no exception.

He said his mom was a teacher while he was going to high school in Edgerton and she inspired him. But when he revealed his plans to follow in her footsteps, they took what was probably at the time a sensible approach toward the news.

“My parents kind of discouraged me from getting into teaching because it was difficult to get jobs at that time,” Schleusner said.

So he followed their advice — sort of. Schleusner received a bachelor’s degree in management at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Then, he obtained a master’s degree in school business management.

“I got my undergrad in business, but I had done some coaching at Edgerton and I was still interested in education,” he said.

In 1989, his first job at a public school was business manager in the Randall School District. Schleusner worked there for four years, but he said what he really enjoyed was interacting with students in a K-8 setting. This would lead him to what he called the “back door way into teaching.”

He returned to school for teaching certification. In little time, he found his first teaching job.

“After I finished the program in spring of 1995, I was hired in McHenry (Ill.). I taught business education at McHenry High School. I was their head girls basketball coach. Then, I got caught in a reduction of force.”

In other words, the high school suffered financial difficulties. But in 1996, he found a job he could latch onto — without having to relocate or travel far.

“I got a job in the McHenry Elementary School District,” Schleusner said. “Over there, I did a number of things. I was assistant technology director and taught middle school technology for eight years.”

In 2007, Schleusner became the principal at Valley View School in McHenry. Although he enjoyed that district and its child-centered, progressive philosophy, he was looking for a job in Wisconsin. Then, in 2009, he found a principal’s position in his hometown, Edgerton.

“I thought if I was going to make a change like this, let’s try it,” Schleusner said.

He said he enjoyed being a principal where he was once a student. However, it wasn’t meant to be. After living in the area of eastern Walworth County and western Kenosha County for 22 years, it appeared home wasn’t where he’d grown up.

“Home, for me, is this area,” Schleusner said. “After doing some soul-searching, we just didn’t want to leave this area.”

Call it fate or serendipity, but he saw there was an opening for principal at Brookwood, a job formerly held by Aaron Griffin.

“It took about two seconds for me to think about applying,” Schleusner said. “I’m very lucky I landed it.”

The moral of this story?

“You don’t always realize how much you enjoy something until the possibility of leaving it comes up,” Schleusner said.

New school, same philosophy

In Schleusner’s opinion, Brookwood and the McHenry School District share the same outlook on educating children.

“Brookwood is a very progressive district,” he said. “It’s very technology-oriented. There aren’t many schools you walk into that are wireless, that have SMARTboards and iPads.”

Schleusner said this week, they will provide six iPads for classroom use. He said more are being ordered.

A former technology teacher and director, he said his background is what makes him a good fit for the Brookwood district.

“It’s exciting to come to a district that really has a vision of promoting technology and working at increasing exposure of it to kids,” Schleusner said.

He said it’s a vision of delivering an education to children about the tools they will use as adults, one in which websites, video and Power Point are rapidly becoming the norm.

“We’re moving away from paper and pencil,” Schleusner said.

The challenge is to keep up.

“It’s constantly changing,” he said. “It’s like when you buy an iPhone and then iPhone 2 comes out, but with us it’s just more about exposure to technology and teaching kids how to use it.”

Schleusner said the main focus for staff this year is to examine how they’re using technology with students and identify ways they could improve.

“Ultimately, the idea of becoming a model school in the use of technology, that’s a great goal for us,” he said.

The new guy

Otherwise, for Schleusner, it’s likely going to be a year of absorbing how things are done in his new school. He said every place is different and he looks forward to getting to know it. Being the new guy is a role he didn’t seem to mind playing.

“I think the biggest thing is to be visible as much as I can, to listen to people,” Schleusner said. “As I told our staff, there’s always the fear of the new guy changing everything. I want to learn about all the great things we have going on here.”

He said he is excited about TRIBES, a “positive learning culture and environment” involving teaching each other respect and other positive character traits.

“We’ve also got a very active, very positive PTO,” Schleusner said. “It will be exciting to work with that group over the course of the year.”

But so far, he said he is impressed with Brookwood. He said he noticed a “real pride” from parents about the school “that’s really inviting.” He said that’s a credit to the staff for “supporting these feelings of making this a great place to be.”

Last but not least, Schleusner revealed another goal for his new year at Brookwood.

“If I can say hi to 265 kids in one day, that would be a great day,” he said.