Sam Santacroce is settling into his new position as principal at Clintonville Middle School.
His first day with the district was July 1.
Santacroce earned his bachelor’s degree from UW-Milwaukee in Science Education. He went on to earn his master’s degree from UW-Milwaukee in Administrative Leadership.
He taught science in Waterford before becoming principal in Gillett, where he spent 10 years as middle school/high school principal. Santacroce has spent the last three years serving as middle school principal in Elkhorn.
“My wife and I have always vacationed ‘up north’,” said Santacroce. “We always drove through Clintonville on our way to our vacation spot. When the middle school principal position in Clintonville became available, I was very interested. I applied and interviewed for the job in May. After being hired, my wife and I moved up here.”
Santacroce has already met several students and teachers through the summer school program. He said he believes the district enjoys a very high level of support from the community it serves.
“The staff and students I’ve met were very friendly and welcoming. I met a large group of kids at summer school, and they represented a wide range of the student body,” said Santacroce. “I have the feeling those students enjoy a very supportive community.”
Santacroce said his vision for Clintonville Middle School is centered on academics and good citizenship.
“I plan to work with students and staff on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS),” said Santacroce. “Once we get students accustomed to their school days, we can focus on academic achievement – especially in math and reading. We need to help kids gain the skills they need to be successful.”
A new program designed by Santacroce will also be introduced.
“I designed the ‘Doing What’s Right’ program with a previous staff member. I’ve used it in two other districts, and it has worked well,” he explained. “The program aims to recognize students for following the rules and doing what staff members ask them to do. We want to recognize students for doing well in class and for showing good citizenship. Hopefully, we can get kids to be excited about being at school and doing what’s right.”
When students are spotted doing a good deed, they will be given a ticket. When they get three tickets, they will get to meet with Santacroce and have a positive discussion on their commendable behavior. Students will then receive a prize for gaining three tickets.
“You have to think like a middle school student,” explained Santacroce. “External rewards are great motivators. This program shows students that they are in control of their own behavior, and that positive recognition will come when they behave according to school rules and concepts of good citizenships. Students can be recognized throughout the year, not just once per month or once per quarter.”
Despite a high poverty rate and some concerning test results, Santacroce hopes to recognize all students when they make meaningful progress.
“The best way to help kids who are in difficult academic or socio-economic situations is to create good connections with them,” he stated. “We’re here to help. A caring environment opens the door to academic success.”
Santacroce and his wife – who is the technology integrator/librarian in the Manawa School District – currently live in Shawano with their dog. They enjoy boating and water skiing in their spare time.