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Westfield Washington Schools names new superintendent

Westfield Washington Schools names new superintendent


Here’s what occurs in a school superintendent search and why it’s so important. Wochit

Paul Kaiser is the next superintendent of Westfield Washington Schools and he will start almost immediately.

At a special meeting, the board approved Kaiser’s hiring in a vote of 5-0. Although originally expected to start in July, Kaiser will begin the new role on Wednesday.

Per a public notice previously published by the school district, his annual base salary will be $185,000. Additionally, he will receive $12,000 in annual stipends plus insurance and retirement benefits at an estimated cost of more than $60,000 for a total package of more than $257,000 in the first year.

But Kaiser wasn’t the only central office leadership hire made Tuesday night. At the same meeting the board also approved the hiring of John Atha as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. Atha starts Wednesday as well and his base salary is $150,000 per year, per spokesperson Joshua Andrews.

“We are thrilled with the qualifications and the diverse experiences that Drs. Kaiser and Atha will bring to our district and are excited to welcome them,” school board president Jimmy Cox said in a news release. “Their experience in urban, rural, suburban, public and private school settings will help to build on the excellent reputation of Westfield Washington Schools.”

Previous Westfield Superintendent Sherry Grate announced in the fall that she was leaving the district effective Jan. 1. Since then, Chris Baldwin, the district’s human resources director has served as interim superintendent.

Superintendent has nearby experience

Kaiser was previously superintendent at Beech Grove City Schools for 13 years. He retired from Beech Grove on March 31, per Beech Grove.

But it didn’t take long to realize that he wasn’t ready to retire, Kaiser said after the meeting. He said that he knew from the first interview with the Westfield school board that this was a job he wanted.

He was also previously superintendent at Monroe-Gregg Schools southwest of Indianapolis. His more than 40 years of experience includes starting his career as a teacher at Kokomo Haworth High School; assistant principal at Eastern High School in Greentown, Indiana; principal at Decatur Central High School; and assistant superintendent at Noblesville Schools, per the Westfield news release.

Kaiser and his family lived in Westfield when he worked at Noblesville Schools, and his daughters attended Westfield Schools. He said leading the district will be like coming home.

“Westfield Washington Schools has a long-standing tradition of excellence,” Kaiser said in a news release. “Our emphasis will always be to provide a rigorous academic program for our students to prepare them for a career in the next phase of their lives.”

Kaiser has bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as multiple administration certifications from Ball State University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Indiana State University.

He’ll start with the ‘heart of education’

Every student should have something that makes them excited to get up to go to school each day, Kaiser said.

“We have to find that one magical thing for each student,” he said, adding that for him, it was accounting and sports.

He added that school should help give students the experiences they need to succeed at the next level, whatever that is.

The new superintendent said he plans to start his first day Wednesday with the “heart of education” by meeting with building leaders.

He said the teachers that his daughters had at Westfield became lifelong role models.

“Because of the nurturing of the teachers, both of my daughters are now doing that as their profession, and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Kaiser said.

He praised Westfield Schools’ successes and said he’ll continue to make it better and better while also celebrating the good things. Starting June 8, which is the next regular school board meeting, there will be a student of the month presentation at the meeting along with success stories.

“We just got to focus on the important things and the positive things, and everything else will take care of itself,” Kaiser said.

After the meeting, Cox praised Kaiser’s desire to celebrate the positive things and said he stood out as the top candidate due to his experience at all different levels and his vision for the district.

Kaiser told IndyStar he also wants to reach out to the community and said that if community members want to talk, he wants to meet in small groups or individually. The district will come together, one parent, one family at a time, he said.

New role combines two previous ones

As assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, Atha will work with building leaders in the school district to support curriculum needs.

Cox said the decision to create the new role was one the board made with Kaiser. And Kaiser said he worked with Atha in Noblesville and praised his approach of being direct about what’s needed.

Atha’s role is new to the district and combines the roles of director of elementary curriculum and director of secondary curriculum into one, said Andrews.

Carrie Alday who was the director at the elementary level left Westfield in January for a similar role at Avon Community Schools. Brooke Watkins, the Westfield director of secondary curriculum, recently gave notice that she is leaving the district as well, Andrews said.

Atha was most recently president of Guerin Catholic High School in Noblesville. Before that he was associate superintendent of Avon schools and has experience as a teacher, principal and central office administrator, per Westfield’s release.

Atha is a Westfield resident and the parent of a 2020 graduate of the district. He has two master’s degrees and a doctorate of education from Ball State University. His bachelor’s degree is from Saint Joseph’s College.

In addition to Kaiser and Atha, the board approved the hiring of Jane Hitch as principal of Oak Trace Elementary. She was previously the assistant principal and a teacher at the school.

Call IndyStar education reporter MJ Slaby at 317-447-1586 or email her at Follow her on Twitter: @mjslaby.

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Published at Tue, 25 May 2021 23:19:24 +0000