Greenfield's new school head comes from district's heart

April 16, 2013

Greenfield - Lisa Elliott, a former Maple Grove Elementary School principal and leader in teacher effectiveness, was chosen to lead the Greenfield schools as its new superintendent.

The Greenfield School Board chose Elliott on Monday from a field of more than 20 applicants, six of whom were interviewed. Elliott, who had been with the Greenfield schools for 20 years, left in 2011 to become director of curriculum and instruction for the Nicolet School District.

"She's a real people person," said Bruce Bailey, Greenfield School Board president, noting that Elliott is well-respected from her service as a local principal.

Bailey described Elliott as a great listener, as having empathy and an understanding of all sides of issues.

Unifying selection

School officials hope her selection to the top school post will result in a more harmonious administrative situation in the district.

"It's no secret there was friction between the board and the past superintendent," said Bailey, acknowledging that the board, along with teachers, had issues with former superintendent Conrad Farner, who took a position with the Cedarburg schools in January.

"It's like a new beginning. … I think this will be good for the district, administrators, kids and teachers," Bailey said.

He predicted that Elliott will be a unifying force, bringing together the unions and the community to focus on the common goal of student achievement.

Board member Rick Moze said Elliott will bring stability and openness in addition to expertise.

Administrative qualities

Working with the state Department of Public Instruction, she has been a leader in teacher effectiveness and is seen as an expert in student learning objectives, Moze said.

Because she's well-versed in school finances, Elliott also will be smart with taxpayer dollars, said Moze, noting she has been an adjunct instructor teaching school finance and business at Alverno College since 2004.

Since going to Nicolet, she has managed a $100,000 budget for curriculum, improvement of instruction and professional development. She also develops and leads districtwide professional learning opportunities and evaluates achievement data to tailor instruction to meet needs that emerge from the test results.

Lately, she has been working with the Nicolet staff to align the curriculum to the state's new Common Core standards, a task that also faces the Greenfield schools.

Board member Cathy Walsh added that because Elliott already works with many superintendents on teacher effectiveness and is even consulted by them, she will have a strong network to draw from to solve problems.

"You don't want to be isolated because education is changing all the time and you don't want to always have to re-invent the wheel," Walsh said.

The board approved a two-year contract for Elliott who will be paid $145,000 a year, a little more than Farner received.

Aiming for quality

In brief remarks after her appointment, Elliott said, "I have truly been blessed."

During her 20 years with the Greenfield schools she has been impressed with "the passion for high quality education for all students," she said

Success for every child also is her goal, she said, and she looks forward to working with the School Board and leading what she called a dedicated team of educators and parents.

Elliott will start July 1, although the board decided that she should be involved in the hiring of a new business administrator and Maple Grove School principal. The business manager also resigned when Farner left.

Elliott joined the district in 1991 as a chemistry teacher at Greenfield High School and soon served as chairwoman of the science department. She served as assistant principal at Greenfield High for four years from 2002 to 2006 and then became Maple Grove Elementary School principal, a post she held for five years from 2006 to 2011.

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