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For Lisa Elliott, it's a super job in Greenfield

District's new superintendent takes charge with her experiences

Greenfield School District Superintendent Lisa Elliott talks with Timothy Madlock, an Edgewood School first-grader, during her reception and the introduction of her leadership team at Greenfield High School recently.

Greenfield School District Superintendent Lisa Elliott talks with Timothy Madlock, an Edgewood School first-grader, during her reception and the introduction of her leadership team at Greenfield High School recently. Photo By C.T. Kruger

Oct. 15, 2013

Greenfield — Aided by experiences both as a teacher and an administrator in teacher development, Lisa Elliott has hit the ground running this year as Greenfield's new superintendent.

For 20 years in Greenfield, she progressed from chemistry teacher to assistant principal at the high school, then became principal of Maple Grove Elementary School. She left for two years to work outside the district as curriculum director at Nicolet High School.

Since returning to the district, beating a field of 20 applicants for the top administrative job, Elliott has rolled up her sleeves to focus on a more rigorous curriculum.

Relevant ideas

Although her curriculum credentials are strong, Elliott said a more rigorous and relevant curriculum doesn't mean a major overhaul. It means taking a deep look at what is taught to make sure there are no gaps or weaknesses. And it means making that what the schools are asking the kids to learn is relevant.

"The curriculum has to be like they will experience in the real world," Elliott said.

Also, how a rigorous curriculum is actually taught is as important as the curriculum itself.

"Research shows that the biggest impact on education is the teacher," Elliott said.

So, teachers getting together to collaborate and share techniques that work is important, she said.

Making the grade

Grading has also changed, for students and teachers alike.

For students, there now needs to be less multiple choice and more labs and presentations in which students can show what they know, Elliott said. Scores on classroom tests should be in the mix with Measures of Academic Progress standardized tests, statewide testing, class writing and how students present ideas, she explained.

Pretty soon the teachers themselves will start being graded under the effectiveness model the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is developing. Having served for two years on a team helping develop that model, Elliott is uniquely situated to help Greenfield teachers do well.

"Absolutely, it will be helpful because I have a sense of the spirit of the model," Elliott said.

Also, while working on the team, she met other superintendents with whom she can network, she said.

"We can build on each others' strengths," she said.

Elliott also influences current and future principals and directors of instruction in her role as adjunct instructor at Alverno College.

Welcomed back

When the School Board appointed Elliott, board President Bruce Bailey said, "It's like a new beginning."

Elliott said, "I'm thrilled to be back in the district."

She knew she wanted to be an educator as a high school sophomore.

"I had an outstanding role model in my dad, who was an educator for 35 years," she said, adding that the way he built relationships with students as both a teacher and a coach was compelling, she said.

Elliott is married to a fifth grade teacher who works in West Bend and they have a daughter who is a senior at Nathan Hale High School and a son who is a sixth-grader at Frank Lloyd Wright Intermediate School in West Allis.

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