Growing up in Oconomowoc and playing soccer on the fields of Pilgrim Park Middle School, Mark Hansen had no idea that one day he would be the superintendent of the Elmbrook School District.
That day officially will come July 1. Until then, the new appointee who was named Friday will wind up his duties as chief academic officer for the Pewaukee School District. He also will work on the superintendent transition over the next few months with Matt Gibson, who is retiring as Elmbrook's superintendent after 17 years.
The Elmbrook School Board officially and unanimously approved the contract Tuesday.
Grateful for chance
"I can only repeat what I have been saying since last week and that is, I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity," Hansen said. "I have visited every school and met a lot of staff members. The excitement level continues."
Hansen said the attraction to Elmbrook was natural.
"Regionally, Elmbrook continues to be celebrated as a top-performing district," he said. "The systems are in place, and I know the people I have met have impressed me. Obviously, this is a great opportunity."
He expects the challenges he will face will be the type any new superintendent would face.
"Superintendents always want to improve student achievement," Hansen said. "In today's environment, that needs to be done with limited resources."
He also noted that one of his priorities, due to planned retirements and resignations, is to fill key administrative positions, including those of assistant superintendent for educational services, director of special education and Burleigh Elementary School principal.
As a local administrator, Hansen is familiar with Elmbrook's goals. He and Gibson have worked on a shared continuous quality improvement initiative.
"The districts have collaborated and that has been a positive experience," Hansen said. "Our region has many quality districts that are sharing ideas."
Gibson said his experience with Hansen will enhance the leadership transition.
"I am happy that we had so many fine candidates who wanted to come to Elmbrook," Gibson said. "I am especially pleased that Mark has been a principal and a teacher because it is so important that someone be in a position to translate what comes from the state and from the board to the classroom - because he has been there."
Hansen also gets high marks from his current boss, Pewaukee Superintendent JoAnn Sternke.
"He's a talented leader, and we will miss him," Sternke said. "We wish him all the best."
She said Hansen has been a valuable member of the Pewaukee district.
"He is a systems builder and a relationship builder," she said. "He has contributed so much to our curriculum development and teacher evaluation process."
Board leadership view
In a news release issued last week, Elmbrook Board President Tom Gehl said, "The board believes that in Mark Hansen our district and community will continue to have an educational leader of the highest personal integrity, one who is committed to building upon Elmbrook's established reputation to attain higher levels of curricular excellence for all students and families."
Gehl pointed to Hansen's background in educational services and his experience as a principal as key factors.
"These criteria, combined with his detailed plans for a transition of leadership, an administrative structure and plans whereby Elmbrook can secure the highest level of achievement in our buildings, are what most attracted the board," he said.
Road to Elmbrook
Before Hansen's current position, he was the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Waukesha School District. His has served as principal of Waukesha South High School, assistant principal of Waukesha North High School, assistant principal of Brown Deer High School and assistant principal of Pewaukee Middle School.
Those administrative positions followed his career as a teacher.
Currently pursuing his doctorate at Cardinal Stritch University, which he expects to complete in May of 2013, Hansen received his superintendent certification from Cardinal Stritch University in 2001. He earned a master's degree in educational leadership from Marian College in 1997 and a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1993.
He is an adjunct professor at Carroll University and at Cardinal Stritch.
The district said Hansen and Gibson will work to ensure a smooth transition and that staff, students, parents and community members will have the opportunity to meet the new superintendent at upcoming meet and greets.
Hansen lives in Oconomowoc with his wife, Scarlet, and their two sons. He said he loves the outdoors and fishing. His sons, he said, keep him interested in soccer.
"When I am not busy being a school administrator," Hansen said, "I enjoy being with my family."
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