By Dawn Kiefer
It’s a challenging time for school districts – with reduced funding from the state, changes to educational standards and evolving technology.
Jarred Burke feels like he’s up to the challenge.
He accepted the position as Richland Center School District Administrator, replacing his longtime predecessor Rachel Schultz following her recent retirement.
Burke is eager to ease into his new position and get to know his colleagues and area residents.
“This year I want to listen and learn,” he says. “Where we are as a district. We’re financially struggling. The (school) board put together a draft budget before I arrived and we may have to go to a referendum. We want to see what the community wants to do.”
Burke says he is working on familiarization with the local educational status: educator effectiveness; implementation of state programs and testing; changing standards; and the curriculum.
“We’ll see how we need to move forward,” he says. “I will implement my strong background in curriculum development.”
Burke has solid upper Midwest roots.
After he graduated from Central High School in La Crosse he attended Winona State University, earning an elementary education degree with two minors; in science and social studies. He began his teaching career in Reno, Nevada, but returned to Wisconsin three years later and has remained in the Badger State since then.
He taught eighth grade social studies for three years in Lodi, followed by being a SAGE teacher (reading and math) for Wonewoc second and third graders.
During the time he taught at Lodi and Wonewoc, he completed a master’s degree in administrative leadership from Marian University in Fond du Lac.
He became a four-year-old kindergarten through eighth grade principal at Hazel Green and curriculum director for Southwest Schools, from 2004-2007.
That was followed by seven years as director of curriculum and instruction at Mt. Horeb.
For the past three years Burke has been working on his Superintendent Specialist License, as well as a Doctorate in School Leadership through Edgewood College. He anticipates completion of the program in May of 2016.
He met his wife, Melissa, in college and they have been married 17 years. They have two sons, Ryan, who will be five in September, and Declan, who was born this past June. Their folks reside in the La Crosse area.
In his leisure time, Burke enjoys playing golf, running for exercise, hunting and fishing. He previously instructed rock climbing through Sauk County 4-H, but is currently on hiatus from that.
Burke is pleased by his adjustment to his new position.
“I’m overwhelmed by the positive reception from staff, community members and the board,” he says. “It’s just been outstanding, welcoming me to the district. I hope to live up to their excitement. It’s been a very good transition. I think it’s going to go well.”