As the whirlwind of the new school year dies down after its first week, Joshua Watt took the time to speak with the Sentinel about his new position with the Grantsburg School District.
Dr. Joni Burgin was the school district’s superintendent for 25 years before retiring after the 2018/19 school year. Watt, who was the high school’s principal, was hired to take over Burgin’s position in July earlier this year.
Watt grew up in a small town in Michigan and he was very excited to continue living in a small town when he started his career in Grantsburg. After graduating college, he moved to Grantsburg and took up a teaching position and coached football. The classes he began teaching were social studies and English. He never envisioned he would want to be a principal let alone a superintendent.
That all changed when Watt got his first look into administration and programming work when online schooling began in Grantsburg, Watt was a part of a small team working together to create and organize the online school. He was the member of the group to write the charter school grants that ultimately lead to the launch of iForward. He began to think administrative work is something that he would be interested in.
He began to work on some administration tasks with former high school principal, Stan Marczak and decided it was certainly something he could see himself doing in the future. He was right on that prediction when he took over Marczak’s position as principal when Marczak retired.
Watt had put in 17 years in the school district before applying to be promoted to the district’s superintendent when he heard of Burgin’s upcoming retirement. He has loved every minute of being a part of the Grantsburg community and the school district.
“People really care here. It’s a parent involvement that you can see in our community- that the community cares about its children,” Watt said of the community.
He was very excited to hear that he would be able to continue serving the community and the district as the new superintendent. Before completely taking over the position, Watt went back to school doing online schooling with a college in Superior to earn his Educational Specialist Degree in administration, which is something you need to become a superintendent. He was very thankful that Superior had an online opportunity for this degree because in the timeframe he had and being a full-time father, husband and principal, it would not have been possible otherwise. His next goal for education is to obtain a doctorate degree in education.
One of the biggest things that Watt enjoys about serving in the school district is making sure that kids are getting the best education and that they are enjoying every step of it.
“Your involvement in school is bigger than just a job. When people go through a school system, those are your memories for a lifetime, and my thing is always to make those memories worth having and keeping.”
When asked what the main goal is for the district this year, he said his main goal is to talk to people and listen to their concerns to find out ways the district can grow and improve. The district is already really strong, but he said there is always ways to improve and things they can do better as a district.
“Sometimes people think when you’re the boss, that everyone is there to serve you. I’m the other way. I’m here to serve people; the district, employees, community.”
Watt reports that the first week of school went very well, and he is looking forward to having a great school year. He wants to give a big thanks to the bus drivers, custodians, ground crews, teachers, principals, district office and staff for getting everything prepared and ready for the new school year to begin with a great kickoff.