MMSD: Cherokee, West, Leopold get new principals




Three Madison schools hired new principals in June.

Madison West High School, Cherokee Middle School and Leopold Elementary School each had openings after their previous principals left or retired. West hired 11-year assistant principal Beth Thompson, while Kevin Brown came to Cherokee from his position as principal at Gilmore Middle School in the Racine Unified School District. At Leopold, Karine Sloan will take over after spending time as a school improvement partner in the district.

Former West principal Ed Holmes retired at the end of the 2013-14 school year after 10 years leading the high school.

But West won’t lost too much in terms of continuity for the school, thanks to Thompson’s 11 years at West and 34 total in Madison schools.

“Just the natural next step for me,” Thompson told the Star. “I absolutely love West High School. I love the atmosphere, our students and parents are awesome.
It’s where I want to be for the rest of my career.”

Thompson said she’s excited to take over at a time of great change in the education world, from new Common Core test standards to personalized learning and plenty in between.

“My whole career I kind of have served in that role of creating change movements,” she said. “They’re all really good changes that are going to make things better for all kids.”

She also said she looks forward to working on the Educator Effectiveness initiative, which will measure teachers’ performances based on a variety of factors, as it brings “so much opportunity” for growth for those teachers.

Thompson previously worked as a support teacher and special education teacher.

Brown, who officially began at Cherokee July 1, took over as principal at Gilmore in 2008, and has also served as an assistant principal at both the middle and high school levels in the past.

Brown said his past experiences in a variety of roles, including teaching sociology and psychology at Milwaukee Area Technical College, will help him ensure all students at Cherokee are equipped with “the best possible education,” no matter their socioeconomic status or race.

He also emphasized his “open door policy.”

“The school does not belong to the school district, it belongs to the community,” Brown said. “Parents are always welcome.”

Sloan will take over for John Burkholder, who had been at Leopold since 2008.

In her most recent position at MMSD, she worked with principals and schools to provide “targeted support.” Previously, she worked as a teacher leader in the Office of Multilingual and Global Education and as an English as a Second Language/bilingual teacher at Cherokee.

She has also worked in three other countries as a teacher.

She was unable to make time for an interview before the Star’s deadline. Look for an updated story with her comments later in July on

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