Van Ess takes on new role in education
By Angie Landsverk
Waupaca High School’s new dean of students is a familiar face to some of the school’s students.
The first class of third graders Scott Van Ess taught at Waupaca Learning Center is now beginning their junior year at WHS.
“It will be good to see them again,” he said.
Van Ess is a few weeks into his new duties as the high school’s new dean.
He replaces Shane Dornfeld, who is now the associate high school principal in the Rhinelander School District.
Initially, Van Ess did not apply for the open position at WHS.
When he heard it was being reposted, he decided to talk to Carl Eggebrecht, one of the high school’s principals, about it.
Van Ess then decided to apply and was offered the position.
“I wanted to go where I could make a difference,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave the district.”
Since he considers the staff at WLC like a family, the decision to move to WHS was a difficult one for him.
However, he sees his new role as being similar to what he was doing at the elementary school.
“I think my job is really the same,” Van Ess said.
That includes helping students to be successful and supporting the teachers as best as he can.
Van Ess already knows many of the high school’s staff members because he was their Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) coach.
For the past three school years, Van Ess was the PBIS coordinator at WLC.
PBIS is a research-based program that involves creating a caring and structural environment, he said.
Prior to becoming the PBIS coordinator at WLC, Van Ess was a teacher there for five years.
His first year teaching there was in the fall of 2007.
Van Ess taught third grade for two years and then fourth grade for three years.
He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 2006 with a degree in elementary education and minor in health education.
The birth of his son, Austin, inspired him to become a teacher.
Van Ess and his wife, Lori, were living in Appleton at the time, and he was the general manager of two Domino’s Pizza stores.
He was ready to franchise and felt he would not have the time he wanted with his family.
Van Ess, who studied business administration for three years at Lakeland College, had in the past thought about being a teacher.
As the general manager of two Domino’s Pizza stores, he felt like he already was a teacher.
Wanting to learn more about teaching, he enrolled at UW-Oshkosh.
Van Ess worked part time, while Lori worked full time.
It took him 5 1/2 years to graduate, because many of the classes he took at Lakeland College did not line up with the teaching program.
Van Ess was a substitute teacher in Kimberly, where he and his family live, before being hired to teach in the Waupaca School District.
After several years of teaching here, John Erspamer, WLC’s principal, suggested that Van Ess move from being a classroom teacher to the school’s PBIS coordinator.
Van Ess loved being a teacher and said Erspamer is the reason he made the move and eventually decided to seek his master’s degree.
“I consider him to be my mentor,” Van Ess said. “He’s really the reason I went into this.”
Last May, Van Ess graduated from Marian University with a master’s degree in educational leadership and a principal license.
He describes himself as a person who feels he needs to make a difference.
“This is something I needed to do,” Van Ess said of his move to WHS. “I’m excited.”