KAUKAUNA – The Kaukauna Area School District has selected a Menasha High School administrator and the son of a veteran Kaukauna band teacher as the district’s next superintendent.
Mike Slowinski, principal of Menasha High School, will become KASD superintendent, effective July 1 when Mark Duerwaechter steps down after leading Kaukauna schools for 10 years and serving 34 years in education.
Board President Kathryn Breitzman said Mike Slowinski is uniquely qualified to lead the district and will continue to advance all that makes Kaukauna strong while bringing fresh energy and a strong desire to build relationships, according to a news release from the district.
“He is a proven collaborator with a strong work ethic and high integrity, values high sought after by the school community,” Breitzman said. “Most importantly, he believes all students can succeed and he is dedicated to providing support needed to make that happen.”
Board Clerk Chad Berken said, “Mike brings an infectious positive energy to everything he does. His record shows a leadership style that empowers others to be their best. We are extremely excited to have him as part of KASD.”
“Mike Slowinski is authentic, passionate and people centered,” added Board Vice President Chris Bouressa. “He is committed to building relationships with all stakeholders. I believe Mike will lead KASD with integrity, energy and strength of character.”
Slowinski, whose father, Wayne Slowinski, taught middle school band in Kaukauna for 30 years, said he was “incredibly honored” to serve the Kaukauna community.
“To have the opportunity to lead and serve in a community that has meant so much to me and my family is truly the honor of a lifetime,” Slowinski said. “The Kaukauna Area School District has a rich history, a supportive community, and a longstanding tradition of excellence and pride. As Superintendent, I will work tirelessly to support the students, families, and staff of this great district. I am grateful to have the opportunity to follow in my dad’s footsteps and am looking forward to serving the Kaukauna Strong community for years to come.”
Slowinski began his education career as an English Language Arts teacher at West DePere High School in 2007 and won the 2008 Nancy Hoefs Outstanding First Year Teacher award from the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English. In 2011 he was promoted as the School District of West DePere’s Library Media & Technology Coordinator. Four years later, Slowinski moved to the Appleton Area School District, taking a position as Associate Principal at Appleton East High School until 2018 when he became Principal of Menasha High School.
Slowinski earned his Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English Education from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in 2007 and his Master of Arts in Education from UW-Stevens Point in 2012. He is licensed as an English teacher, library media specialist, principal and superintendent.
Menasha Joint School District Superintendent Chris VanderHeyden supported Slowinski’s desire to be a superintendent, saying in a letter shared with the search team, “Mike has proven to be an effective leader (who) took the time to get to know the staff, students and community as he looked for ways to improve the educational opportunities available in our school.”
Slowinski led a transition to a trimester schedule at Menasha High, helped recreate the staff salary schedule, contributed to district visioning and referendum planning, and built plans to improve attendance and achievement, as graduation rates for African American students rose over the past three years.
“Parents and students feel listened to and respected when they interact with Mike,” said Menasha Director of Special Services Marci Thiry. “He leads with integrity, dedication, openness, creativity, fairness and intelligence while working collaboratively.”
At Appleton East, Slowinski created a mentor program to support students with mental health or academic concerns, as well as partnered with community resources to provide wrap-around care for at-risk students. He created Hispanic and African American cultural support groups.
Slowinski was one of three finalists who met Wednesday with a community stakeholder group of district and community representatives, including parents, teachers, staff and community partners, before meeting with the Board.
The school district hired Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) 6 to lead the Board through the search process. The CESA 6 team recruited and screened applicants and presented a slate of candidates to the Board on January 12 that was narrowed for Wednesday’s interviews. More information about the search process and timeline is detailed on the district’s website.