Greens depart for new opportunities, Peterson takes charge
By Scott Bellile
Parkview Elementary School has a new principal in charge.
Jody Peterson of Clintonville took over on July 11 for former principal Joseph Green.
Joseph and his wife Michele turned in resignation letters to the New London School Board in May, ending a nine-year career in the district. They together accepted new positions in the Greenwood School District, located 50 miles east of Eau Claire.
Joseph will wear two hats there as principal for Greenwood Elementary School and director of teaching and learning for the school district. He began there July 1.
Joseph was Parkview’s principal for the last four years. Before that he was principal and associate principal at New London Intermediate/Middle School.
Michele will be Greenwood School District’s K-12 library media and technology integration specialist. Her job begins in August.
In the School District of New London, Michele was an instructional resource coach at the K-4 level at the four elementary schools. She served also as the school district technology coordinator.
Peterson takes a step up
This will be Peterson’s first job as the head of a school.
During her 17-year career in the Clintonville School District, Peterson taught grades two through four and was most recently an instructional coach.
“Clintonville was amazing and taught me all that I know so far, so I owe a lot to Clintonville,” Peterson said.
“My whole career has been in Clintonville prior to coming to New London.”
As an instructional coach, Peterson helped Clintonville teachers develop and implement curriculum goals in a variety of subjects, including reading, math, art, band and technology. They would work together for six to eight weeks in helping the teacher attain their classroom goals.
It was helping teachers “perfect their craft,” Peterson said, that interested her in pursuing a higher role as a principal, which is a largely staff-focused position.
“I was only going to apply if New London opened, and they opened,” Peterson said. “Because I still wanted to be in the area, I didn’t want to have to move the family. And my husband works in Shawano for Shawano School District, so New London open[ing] worked out perfect.”
Peterson entered the teaching world in 2000 after earning her bachelor’s degree in special education and elementary education from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. In 2011, she earned her master’s in administration and curriculum instruction from National Louis University based in Chicago.
“Obviously I got into education because of the passion of working with kids,” Peterson said. “So even though I’m out of the classroom now, I still want to be involved in or a part of what’s happening in classrooms as much as I can be.”
She also wants to help Parkview staff members grow in their initiatives and personal goals.
“You can definitely get that sense they’re very proud of the school, too, and the work they’ve put in, and they’re very excited to see the way things are going to go,” Peterson said.
Besides learning the school district’s history and how things work in Parkview Elementary School, Peterson will also be tasked with helping launch the school’s new Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program, or PBIS.
“It’s just a school-wide common communication tool revolving around behavior,” Peterson explained. “It helps to provide consistency and staff all start to use the same language.”
New London School Superintendent Dennis Krueger, who officially assumed his new role this month, interviewed and helped hire Peterson as one of his first orders of business. At the July 10 school board meeting, he described Peterson as “the finest candidate possible.”
Joseph Green said he met with Peterson before he left and “dumped as much knowledge as I could in a couple hours” upon her.
“Parkview’s in a good spot,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be a school for you to watch out for. A lot of good things happening; a lot of good people.”
Greens begin new journey together
Joseph and Michele Green have stuck together since the beginning of their careers.
The couple first met in Black River Falls when Michele was a library media specialist for the school district and Joseph was the middle school dean of students.
They moved to the New London School District together in 2008, expecting to stay two or three years. It was “so amazing for the both of us” and their three kids that they remained until now, Joseph said.
They left to be closer to family. Joseph also wanted to try a smaller town where he could take on the challenge of juggling more responsibilities in a “tiny” school district.
“New London is so progressive, and the stuff that I’ve done there and been allowed to do there is exactly what I want to do and bring to Greenwood. I want to share those experiences with them,” Joseph said.
He said Greenwood School District totals around 400 students, with 180 of them at the elementary school. In comparison, Parkview Elementary School averaged around 300 students.
Michele and Joseph applied for Greenwood School District because there was an opening for each of them. Thus begins their third school district where they will work side by side.
“We really enjoy working together and we make a great team, so that was definitely a plus that there were two positions open in the same district together,” Michele said. “And also we’ll be closer to family in that rural country setting, which is what we want.”
Joseph said Greenwood is a small community with a strong, supportive community, so things are looking positive. But that doesn’t mean leaving New London was easy.
“I will miss Parkview immensely,” Joseph said. “It was just such a great building with such great people. Great families, great kids. It was a really tough school to leave.”
The Greens were especially proud of New London’s reading and writing workshop recently implemented in the elementary schools. They say it transformed the schools’ reading culture.
“It’s done wonders for our reading,” Joseph added.
“It’s so heartwarming to see teachers and students talking about books and recommending books to each other, and that’s something we weren’t seeing before,” Michele said. “And now when you hand a child a book their entire face lights up.”
Kathy Gwidt, who retired June 30 as New London’s district administrator, offered kind words for the Greens.
“We are happy [that] they are able to move closer to their hometown, but they are a remarkable team and their leadership will be missed,” Gwidt said.
That teamwork will hopefully continue for the couple, Joseph said.
“Maybe we’ll retire together. Who knows,” Joseph said with a laugh. “You never know. We’ve got a long time to work yet.”