Pardeeville hires new high school principal

August 18, 2018

PARDEEVILLE — Pardeeville High School’s new principal says his positive attitude marks his best strength as an administrator.

“You really need to maintain a sense of hope in public education because you never know what’s coming down the pike,” said Paul Weber, who succeeds Jack Hammer as principal Aug. 24. Weber served as principal of Elk Mound High School since 2003. The Pardeeville School Board chose Weber from a pool of five candidates late last week.

“Your positive attitude should be grounded in reality,” Weber said. “Because each day when you come to work you need to figure out what’s best for students. Overall, I think that’s where my strength is.”

Weber taught social studies from 1991-1992 at Newman Catholic High School in Wausau and then for 10 years at Phillips High School in northern Wisconsin until 2003. As principal in Elk Mound, Weber also held the role of athletic director for most of his tenure and brings to Pardeeville experience in staff development and curriculum planning, Pardeeville Superintendent Gus Knitt said.

“This is the third high school principal I’ve hired, but he’s the first with (high school principal) experience,” noted Knitt, who started in the district in 2008. “As a smaller district we tend to be a training ground for first-time principals, but this year we had four candidates with experience who wanted to come here.”

Developing meaningful programs for staff was at the top of the list of things Pardeeville school leaders sought from its new principal, Knitt said, and Weber’s experience in curriculum impressed them too. While at Elk Mound, Weber worked with English, math and science teachers to revamp course offerings and worked with staff to encourage professional development and increase teacher effectiveness, Knitt said.

“For example, he created a diverse course schedule to build well-rounded education programming in Elk Mound,” Knitt said. “We’re doing more and more analyzing of test scores in Pardeeville and he has done a lot of that.”

“Quite honestly,” Knitt said, “I always look for that kind of background because I came up in finance. Curriculum is not my strength, and I look for people who can complement my strengths.”

Weber earned his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Marian College in Fond du Lac.

Over his career Weber gained “a pretty good handle on curriculum and instruction,” Weber said, noting that as an administrator in a small school, “you wear many hats.”

Family was a big factor in Weber seeking the principal position in Pardeeville, he said. His wife, Janet Weber, recently took a nursing position at Meriter Hospital in Madison and their oldest daughter graduated from Elk Mound High School in May and will attend UW-Madison in the fall. Their son recently graduated from UW-Madison and soon will attend dental school at Marquette University, and the Webers’ third child lives in Nashville.

“This brings us closer to family, but there’s more to it than that,” Weber said of his new role. “Change is always good, and I’m excited about the opportunity. Being principal in a new district brings new challenges and that’s a good way to grow.

“I enjoyed my time in Elk Mound immensely, but I’m looking forward to working with the good people in the Pardeeville Area School District.”

Earlier this summer, Hammer accepted a middle school principal position in Mauston after serving two years as high school principal in Pardeeville. Hammer worked for more than 20 years in the Mauston School District as a high school science teacher before he replaced Jason LeMay in Pardeeville in 2016.

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