OSD: Following the footsteps

New OHS assistant continuing family legacy
Scott De Laruelle

Photo by Scott De Laruelle. New Oregon High School assistant principal Josh Iverson takes some time out to chat during a day-long session on personalized learning earlier this month.

Assistant high school principals often get a reputation for being the “heavy,” or the school disciplinarian. But new Oregon High School assistant principal Josh Iverson comes to his job with a different perspective – a background in special education teaching that carries on a family tradition.

The Viroqua native credits his passion for teaching special education to his mother, a long-time special education teacher.

“I had a connection and a desire my whole life to help out, working with individuals who I felt were really special and important to me, and not only the kids my mom worked with, but kids who were in my own school; they always had a special place in my heart,” he said. “When I went to college, I kind of knew I wanted to go into education of some sort, and it just kind of made sense.”

After graduating from Winona State University in 2009 with a degree in special education, Iverson was hired by the Reedsburg School District to teach special education at the high school. Looking for more responsibility, he started work on his master’s degree through Viterbo University in 2011, graduating from the program last year.

“In the back of my mind, I always wanted more of a leadership role in a school,” he said.

It was during that training that Iverson came into contact with educators from the south side of the Badger Conference, and he began to hear more and more about the Dane County area.

“It worked out nice, because it was good to hear what was going on in Verona and Stoughton and Oregon,” he said. “It was also good leadership learning.”

Last year, Iverson began to apply what he learned, serving as a part-time assistant principal in addition to his special education teaching duties.

“It was a big mix of responsibilities and it was fun – a good learning experience and an opportunity for me,” he said.

After the school year ended, Iverson started looking for additional opportunities to grow his career. The assistant principal position opened up at OHS when Mary Kramer left to take a principalship in Shawano, and he jumped at the opportunity. Iverson’s fiancee, an elementary school teacher in Green Bay, also was hired by the district, and will start this fall teaching at Prairie View Elementary School.

Oregon High School principal Kelly Meyers said Iverson will work with several departments on curricular development, in particular special education, as well as oversee students with last names M-Z.

She said the school is fortunate to have Iverson join the “Panther Team.”

“He brings experience, energy, enthusiasm and a commitment to students and staff,” Meyers said. “Josh will be an integral part of our team for activities, Saturday School and more.”

Iverson said he knew Oregon is where he and his fiancee wanted to be.

“I’m really excited and thrilled to be here,” he said. “I knew some of what was going on there with some really exciting educational initiatives; their belief in personalized learning, which I really believe in as far as my own educational philosophy of catering to the learner. The administrative team is great, and it really, really was for me kind of a no-brainer. I would like to learn from (OHS principal Kelly Meyers) and work on a great district like Oregon with a lot of great things going on.”

Leadership role

As an assistant principal, Iverson said while he’ll have some standard duties to fulfill, he’ll also have others that will put him in a unique position to help.

“The behavior and attendance and discipline are still parts of the job, but our goal is for kids to see us as a positive person in the school; another face to help them succeed,” he said. “Every kid is their own unique individual to me, and I think every kid can succeed and deserves to do so. If they can’t be reached through the classroom, maybe I can provide that guidance or support they need, so we’re not just the ‘bad disciplinarians’ all the time.”

Iverson coached the high school baseball team in Reedsburg, but with his new duties, he’ll put that on hold for now.

“Once things kind of settle down, I’d like to continue at least volunteering and helping out in a baseball role,” he said. “I’ve been very active in baseball my the whole life. Baseball has been a big part of my life since I was a little kid.”

In the meantime, Iverson will be kept plenty busy not just getting ready for the upcoming school year, but getting married this weekend and moving into a newly built house in the area.

“We’ve kind of been living out of vehicles and on the road, going here and there and trying to plan a wedding, with all the little details,” he said. “I’m excited to be here and can’t wait to get involved – in the summer, because there are no kids around, it’s hard to get a sense for how things operate from day to day. We’re looking forward to making Oregon our home and to get our faces in the community and work with kids.”

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