Columbus School District welcomes new student services director
Lisa Blochwitz didn’t have to stray far from home to find a new opportunity in education.
Blochwitz, who grew up in Beaver Dam and spent a decade working in Marshall, became the new student services director for Columbus School District Aug. 6. Prior to her stint in Marshall, Blochwitz worked for the Poynette School District and still lives in Poynette with her husband and stepdaughters.
In her role at Columbus, Blochwitz focuses on supporting the district’s special education, pupil services and nursing programs. She also oversees the district’s homeless program and Title III, which is the district’s bilingual program.
“It mainly focuses on overseeing those special programs that support students in our district,” Blochwitz said.
After beginning her career in health care, Blochwitz switched to education. She served as a speech and language pathologist in Poynette for nine years. Looking for a leadership role, Blochwitz moved to the Marshall School District, serving as special education coordinator for 10 years, along with eight years as middle school principal.
“I played two roles for the vast majority of my time at Marshall,” Blochwitz said. “I was really looking for the ability to focus on one job rather than two. Columbus came up and it looked really appealing to me.”
While she admits feeling comfortable in aspects of her new position, Blochwitz continues to learn on the job. It makes the role exciting, challenging and intriguing.
“I’m just now getting connected with other area (student services) directors as resources to help support me,” Blochwitz said. “When you’re the only one in the district there is not always people to go to so I’m excited to be able to network with area directors and learn from them.”
Despite less than two months in Columbus, Blochwitz has been busy, working alongside district principals. She has also worked to improve Columbus’ student life skills curriculum with Superintendent Annette Deuman.
“I have enjoyed working with Lisa, her professional demeanor and care for children is a beautiful mix for the student services position,” said Columbus Elementary School Principal Beth Hellpap. “I am excited to have her on the team.”
Middle School Principal Loren Glasbrenner echoed Hellpap’s statement, and added that Blochwitz was a great addition to the district’s leadership team.
“She not only leads, but also represents the Student Services Department in a professional and positive way,” Glasbrenner said. “Kids, parents, and colleagues have been very impressed and thankful for her years of experience in the role.”
Going forward, Blochwitz realizes there is plenty to accomplish in her new role, but she’s embracing it. She has outlined a few short-term and long-term goals. In the coming months, Blochwitz wants to get to know her staff and place them in roles where they can succeed. She would also like to develop more clear-cut processes relating to student programs.
“They’re really looking for systems to be in place and for them to be consistent,” Blochwitz said.
In the long term, Blochwitz wants to develop an intervention program for students who are struggling in specific areas.
“Right now when a student is struggling in class, the automatic go-to is to refer them to special education,” Blochwitz said. “We need to have something in-between that. We need to have a system in place and track if the kids are being successful.”
Blochwitz said the program, called a multi-level system of support, aims to help students succeed in their core classes. Through the intervention, more students are able to stay with their class, rather than being placed in special education. Blochwitz said it’s an important emphasis the district is working on.
Blochwitz will also be assisting homeless students. Homelessness is often overlooked in small communities similar to Columbus, but it affects children here as well. For children who are homeless, focusing on learning can be difficult.
“It’s about offering support such as free meals and transportation so they can succeed in school,” Blochwitz said. “Anything we can do to support them and make it a little easier for them is our goal.”
When she’s not at school, Blochwitz spends time with her husband, Tom, and stepdaughters Jordan, Jenna and Mollie. The family enjoys traveling and is planning a trip to Germany in a couple weeks. Tom Blochwitz works in Sun Prairie so the family has connections across multiple communities.
“I grew up in Beaver Dam and my parents (Doug and Kathy Mathison) still live in Beaver Dam so I feel very connected to the local communities,” Blochwitz said.