New Berlin - With three of New Berlin's six schools having new principals this year, a lot of students and parents are getting to know the faces that belong to the new hands at the helms of their schools.
One of them is John Budish, new principal at New Berlin West Middle/High School, who succeeds Blake Peuse who was named superintendent of the Northern Ozaukee School District.
It wasn't until Budish was in college studying for a medical career that he realized that teaching was something he liked even more than medicine.
Looking back he said, "I found I really enjoyed helping classmates understand the science we were learning." As a result, his college major took a sharp turn toward education. He taught science for eight years at Sussex Hamilton High School and was science department chairman.
He was honored as Teacher of the Year in Sussex and received a regional award from the science and technology program FIRST Robotics which named him Mentor of the Year, also while he was at Hamilton.
Budish then went to Franklin High School where he served as associate principal for six years before coming to New Berlin West.
He found the most rewarding part about teaching was helping students master complex scientific ideas and concepts, Budish said.
As an administrator he still likes to see students achieve, but said the best way he can do that is by helping teachers be the best they can be in all kinds of ways.
"By encouraging innovation, developing more complex reasoning among students and using technology to extend the classroom and make learning more relevant to students," Budish said.
Married and the father of a son and two daughters, ages 10, 8 and 6, Budish coaches his children's soccer teams and loves to cook.
Education is in Lidner's blood
Also new at the helm this year is Royce Lindner who is principal at Elmwood Elementary School, succeeding the now-retired Jo Boardman. Going into education had been in his mind for a long time as he saw the force for good his father was in young lives as an elementary school principal. Besides that, Lindner said as a teenager he coached younger kids in sports and helped with other youth activities.
Simply practicing the art of teaching was rewarding, he said.
"It's just great to learn what really excites kids about learning and teaching the way they learn and then seeing them succeed," Lindner said.
He was in the Elmbrook School District for eight years, teaching grades three, four and six.
He then became assistant principal in an elementary school in Lake Geneva for two years before coming to New Berlin three years ago. He served for two years as assistant principal at Ronald Reagan Elementary School and then was principal of Glen Park Elementary School last year.
Because the district was in the throes of making the emotional and difficult decision to close Glen Park, last year was a tough one, he said. The school was closed and this is a year of transition for its students, many of whom attend Elmwood for the first time.
"One of the things I really appreciate in our community is the families," Lindner said. "For the most part they have been very supportive and the kids are great."
He and his wife, Katie, who came from the Elmbrook District this year to serve as a literacy interventionist at Poplar Creek Elementary School in New Berlin, have a son, 8, and daughter, 4.
Reinke inspired by grandma
Over at Poplar Creek, former Ironman triathlete Brady Reinke started his first year as principal. Two years ago, Reinke competed in the Ironman Triathlon in Madison where he swam two miles, biked 112 miles and ran a full 26.2-mile marathon. He did it all in 12 hours.
But not any more, he said. Since he and his wife became parents of a daughter, their lives have changed a lot, he said. But being a parent has added a new dimension to his job.
"Having a daughter really helped me understand parents' view of education and makes the job I'm doing here even more urgent," said Reinke who succeeds Jane Gennerman who became a principal in another district.
He comes from a long line of educators, Reinke said.
"My great-grandma was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in northern Wisconsin," he said. And his grandmother was a teacher, also. Seeing all the helpful things his grandmother did with students made him want to be in education, he said.
"I go to my job every day and hopefully make a difference in somebody's life," he said.
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