Whitewater schools superintendent stepping down
Zentner made the announcement in her monthly editorial, describing her decision and vision for Whitewater Unified School District moving forward. The Wisconsin native was hired from a Phoenix school district in 2009, replacing seven-year administrator Leslie Steinhaus.
Now, she returns to Phoenix, becoming the national director of K-12 education with the Apollo Group, a corporation that owns several educational facilities including for-profit institutions such as the University of Phoenix.
Zentner said she will step down at the end of June.
“It is with mixed emotions that I have decided to leave my position here, as I feel we have just begun in many ways,” Zentner wrote.
“So many of you have made such deep impressions on me, warmly welcoming me back to the community I left 20-plus years ago, and helping to strengthen me in my position here. I will remain forever thankful for what has been a remarkable and memorable professional and personal journey.”
Representatives with the Apollo Group did not immediately return calls from the Gazette. School board Vice President Casey Judd declined comment until the board has the opportunity to meet and discuss Zentner’s decision.
Zentner grew up in Fort Atkinson, earning her bachelor’s degree from UW-Whitewater. She taught at Madison Area Technical College, the University of Phoenix and Arizona State University in Tempe.
Zentner said her new position will “allow me to further combine my passions for education and business by focusing exclusively on 21st-century preparedness with a specific focus on entrepreneurship and innovation to districts nationwide.”
Whitewater School District took a significant step in that direction under Zentner, approving a plan to transform Lincoln Elementary into a “21st century learning” charter school beginning this fall. The new institution, designated for kindergarten through fifth-grade students, is designed to help children develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Zentner urged the Whitewater community to continue investing in its youth to ensure its success in the future.
“I maintain that they are the single greatest resource our country has,” she said, “and an unyielding commitment to them is truly what makes any community or nation great.”
The school board will have less time to find a replacement than in 2009, when Steinhaus announced her resignation nearly nine months before stepping down. It took the board seven months to hire Zentner.
The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is Monday, May 16.