New Chippewa Falls Superintendent Tom Hughes, left, listens as Bob Severson, director of building, grounds and safety, describes projects that are underway in the middle school gymnasium Friday.
may have been raised in eastern Wisconsin and spent most of his
life there, but he
was no stranger to Chippewa Falls.
When he walked into the administration offices earlier this month to begin serving as superintendent of Chippewa Falls schools, it wasn't the first time he had set foot in district buildings.
It turns out Hughes had visited two of the district's 10 school buildings and the Northern Center while working towards his master's degree at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
"I've never forgotten them, not just the buildings themselves ... but the community," he
, 47, was drawn back to the Chippewa Valley as soon as he
discovered Chippewa Falls
' superintendent position had opened up.
"I knew it would be a nice community," he
new position on July 1.
wife Pam purchased a house in the city and plan to get involved in the area.
When Hughes accepted the post at Chippewa Falls, he was drawn not only to the area, but also to the district.
Chippewa Falls has may collaboration and continuous improvement initiatives similar to what Hughes put in place while he was superintendent of the Valders School District, near Manitowoc, for the past 10 years.
"It's part of what I think has brought us together," he
sees many similarities between his
former district of about 1,100 students and the Chippewa Falls
district, with close to 5,000 students, he
doesn't plan to treat them equally.
"I'm not the kind of person who has gone to the next place who has brought the whole bag or whatever from the last place," he
"My conversation is what can we do here.
The job is to do what is right for that district."
Hughes has worked in education for more than 20 years.
He was a school psychologist and a special education director before becoming superintendent in Valders.
He obtained a bachelor's degree from Winona State University in Winona, Minn., a master's degree from UW-Eau Claire and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"What I offer is I've done a lot of different things," Hughes
said, noting that those past experiences will help him complete the tasks he
has before him in Chippewa Falls
"I've worked in a variety of sizes of districts, and through those experiences, I've learned that not one person holds all the answers," he
With only a few days on the job in Chippewa Falls
has no plans yet to implement new programs
is looking forward to getting involved in the district's future budget planning.
"To make it the next couple years ... it's going to take working together and buckling down," he
said of the budget crunch facing Wisconsin schools.
added that Chippewa Falls
has already done well in working proactively with its budgeting.
"With all the fiscal stuff going on, it's nice to come from a district that watched out for itself financially to a school that has done the same things," he
also plans to increase cooperation the district has with the community.
"The relationship the school and the community can have together is fantastic," he
has worked for various school systems, he
plans to take a unique approach to leading Chippewa Falls