Superintendent of Schools – New Bloomfield R-III
I completed my undergraduate degree in political and legal studies at William Woods University. When I decided to attend graduate school, WWU was an easy first choice! With the ease of a nearby cohort, being able to work full-time and the flexible hours, it made sense. There was a group of us that decided to enter the cohort program together from my work because when you enter the program, William Woods will keep you together until you graduate.
I had completed my undergraduate degree in 2004, then I finished my master of education in 2012, and my specialist degree in 2016.
Evening classes with The Woods
Within the cohort, you knew that Wednesday nights were when you had class, which made scheduling easy. I had small children when I was completing my MED so I appreciated that I knew this one night of the week would be dedicated to class and then the rest of my time could be flexible.
It was also nice for group projects as we all took classes together throughout the degree program, so we got to know each other’s schedules and how to work together efficiently.
I think William Woods gives you the great benefit of networking. You meet people in the area who are furthering their education at the same time as you. Additionally, your professors are local leaders within the field and are up-to-date with their knowledge. My key takeaway was the personal experiences of those professors and how they brought it back to us. They would tell us how they handled a specific situation and then we would go through other ways we could handle it. You were able to turn around and use that information right away.
The rigor increases with each degree, as it should. The feel of the classroom was very similar throughout though. Each professor knew everyone’s name and was very personable. You can tell that the professors really want their students to succeed and their door is always open when you have questions.
From hourly to superintendent
I started as an hourly paraprofessional at the New Bloomfield School District after receiving my undergraduate degree while I figured out what I wanted to do. I was not sure if I wanted to lobby, be an educator, or further my education. I planned to do that for the summer and did that for two years while falling in love with education and the district.
I then moved into the classroom and taught special education for five years. From there I moved to the Special Education Director position for six years. I worked very closely with the superintendent during this time which led me to go back to get my specialist degree. When our superintendent retired, I put my name in for the position and have now been the superintendent for three years.
I have always said when you’re a teacher you can impact 20 kids in your classroom, and when you’re a principal, or in my case as a program director, you can impact hundreds of kids. Now I am a superintendent and I can impact 700 kids a day, a 100 staff members and a community. I really get to make that difference in my community that I always wanted to.
I also think I bring a really unique perspective to the New Bloomfield district as I was a student here K-12, then I was hourly staff, a teacher, an administrator and now the superintendent. I know what it’s like to be in every role within the district. I know what our staff is going through and I think that is a unique position that not everyone can say.
Why go to graduate school
I talk to our teachers all the time and one philosophy I have is to never stop learning. We don’t want our students to stop learning, so we shouldn’t either. I encourage all of our staff, to continue to strive for more knowledge as it will only grow you, no matter your position.
(Editor’s note: Sarah Wisdom delivered the commencement address at WWU’s Graduate School graduation ceremony in 2019)