This is a digital version of a print newsletter I sent home to families recently. 

It may sound like a cliché, but I am truly amazed at how fast the 2016-2017 school year has gone. It has been an enjoyable first year for our family and for me at Mineral Point Elementary. The staff, students, and families have been great to work with in the many areas involved in leading a school.

While I have strived to be visible in my position as building principal throughout the school day and in the community, it doesn’t always feel like enough. Families are busy and don’t always have time to read my blog, check out my tweets, or connect personally with me in the hallways and parking lot at school. Sometimes, we get used to crossing each other’s paths and forget to make a continuous effort to reach out. That is why I am putting this post in print as well as online.

The purpose? Simply put, it might be nice to get to know me a little bit better as a person as well as a principal. While I don’t believe these details are profound, the family members of the students that attend Mineral Point Elementary might think otherwise.

I am married with two children. We all work and learn in the same building! We also have two cats. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and writing, walking when driving is not necessary, and exploring educational technology (too much?). I had an inkling that I would want to teach while attending high school. During summers, I coached little league and softball for our city’s recreation league. This led to eventually declaring my major at UW-Platteville in elementary and middle-level education my junior year. There was a brief time in between where I though engineering might be my future vocation. It turned out that I preferred to work with kids than with numbers and formulas.

As a teacher for seven years, I enjoyed helping students connect the dots between the different learning experiences during their school year. My school had a multi-age, thematic approach to instruction. Knowledge and skills from multiple disciplines were tied in with big ideas and concepts. This is what life is like, I believed, and thought that school should resemble this reality as much as possible. One of my favorite units of study to teach was a bridge building project. It involved geometry, physics, financial literacy, and cooperative learning. Almost all of these activities had a foundation in authentic literacy experiences.

As high stakes testing and standards were introduced into public education, I saw a lot of curriculum start to separate. This was frustrating as an educator. While I understood the need to ensure high-quality learning experiences across all schools and district, these initiatives led some in education to go against what we know to be good instruction. I believe that student engagement and academic achievement can co-exist. This desire to affect school change led me to pursue educational administration. I became an assistant principal and athletic director in 2007 at a grade 7-9 junior high school in Wisconsin Rapids, followed by five years leading an elementary building, also in Rapids.

After sixteen years in one district, I wanted the opportunity to venture out and experience how another district has committed to student learning. Mineral Point has not disappointed. Weekly time to collaborate as professionals is critical to our success. We have leadership from both the top and at the ground level that implements effective educational strategies. The community continues to support our endeavors, regardless of whether someone might have children or grandchildren in the district or not. Mineral Point is a special place to learn and live.

So what do I know about you? Probably not enough. I hope that our paths will continue to cross at school and in the area so we can develop trust and build relationships on behalf of our youth. Thank you for helping the staff and me make a positive impact on our students’ lives this year and for years to come.



Matt Renwick