By Kaine Korzekwa
Years of service to Wisconsin’s public schools culminated in a surprise announcement from Mike Gonzalez’s superintendent that he had been named the Junior and Middle School Administrator of the Year by the Wisconsin Association of School Councils in the spring of 2015.
“I choose to be a middle school teacher and administrator because I feel I can relate to them more,” says Gonzalez. “These are very formative years and I feel privileged to serve as a role model and have a hand in their education.”
Gonzalez earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy analysis in 2006. He wanted to be a teacher early on but studied business and work in that field instead for a few years — until his spark for teaching was reignited while mentoring at an after school program.
He then worked to get his certification and taught for a few years until pursuing his master’s degree at UW–Madison to become an educational administrator. He worked as a vice principal for six years and is now in his third year as principal at Gordon Olson Middle School in Mauston, Wisconsin.
“It meant even more to me because my students were the ones who nominated me for the award. That’s why I was so honored. Everything I do is for these kids.”
Among many other responsibilities, he gets to evaluate and observe teachers, oversee maintenance of his campus, sit in on policy and curriculum meetings, and match students with the right interventions both academically and behaviorally.
“I get to do so many things in my small school district,” explains Gonzalez, who is also currently a doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. “I get to use my creativity and thought process to impact a wider range of students. That’s what I enjoy about being a principal.”
He says his award from the Wisconsin Association of School Councils is the best thing that’s happened to him in not only his career so far but also his life.