New Elkhorn schools superintendent to champion STEM fields
ELKHORN--Jason Tadlock has only been on the job as the leader of Elkhorn's school district for one month, but he is already working to shape the district's future.
The new Elkhorn Area School District administrator, who replaced Greg Wescott after his retirement from the position he held for 16 years, has been told he has big shoes to fill. Since he started July 1, Tadlock has hit the ground running.
Although boxes still fill his new home in Elkhorn, Tadlock has been meeting with community organization leaders and reaching out to parents and teachers to find out what the district does well and where there might be room for improvement.
His introduction to the district has also included the opportunity to hire four new school principals after staff departures, a significant personnel change in a district with nine total school heads.
The new superintendent comes to the area after three years as the administrator for the Wheatland School District in Kenosha County. In that position, he developed an understanding that education is a customer service industry and should operate with that awareness.
“We're here for the students and families to provide the best service possible and create a positive environment, which leads to success in the district,” Tadlock said.
With that mission in mind, he worked to reverse the district's enrollment deficit, which was once the second largest in the state. This year, Wheatland has enrollment growth for the first time in its history, he said.
His guiding mantra is to craft programs that “maximize growth for each and every student” while increasing access and opportunities for students to engage in activities before and after school.
Tadlock, an advocate for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, said he would look to examine the district's curriculum in these areas moving forward. He will also meet with stakeholders to create a “road map” for new initiatives in these subject areas in coming weeks.
“The demand in these fields is there, and we need to prepare students for the opportunities that will be out there for them,” he said.
He plans to build on momentum from implementing a new science curriculum at the high school last year to look at current math coursework and incorporate more technology use with instruction across district schools.
More tangibly, Tadlock said he wants to see the districts' students score in the 90th percentile nationally for ACT scores and the 90th percentile on assessments of individual students' growth and achievements.
Although he declined to offer specific policy priorities for the district because meetings are ongoing, Tadlock said he also looks forward to having the ability to focus on his role as superintendent, an allowance made by working in a larger school district.
Wearing a number of different hats at Wheatland made him feel like a jack-of-all-trades but a master of none, he said. His new role in Elkhorn gives him the chance to focus on big picture items and the overall health of the district, he said.