Mike, who will be moving on from his current position as principal at Sheboygan South High School at the end of this school year to become the Superintendent of Schools in Random Lake, has spent most of his professional career at schools throughout the county, first as a special education teacher in Sheboygan Falls and at Sheboygan North, and then as assistant principal at Farnsworth and principal at Sheridan Elementary School and South High School.
Not bad for a kid from Sheboygan who wasn’t exactly sure what he was going to do after graduating from Sheboygan North High School. But Mike knew one thing from the start: he wanted to come back and work in Sheboygan County.
His reasoning was as simple as his address. Mike grew up on North 12th Street in Sheboygan, around the corner from the eponymously named Trimberger Ct. “As I look back now as an adult, I think that that alone (living on Trimberger Ct.) impressed something in me about doing something for your community. How cool is it that somewhere in my lineage there was somebody who did enough to have a street named after him?” Mike asked.
That small road—just one block named after his great-great grandfather who had farmed in that area—helped put Mike on the career path he is currently following.
“I left high school and I didn’t know what the heck I wanted to do,” Mike recalled He spent four or five years trying different colleges and careers before he settled on special education. “I had a family member that was really impacted
by a teacher and that’s where the lightbulb came on: Isn’t it really cool to be able to help somebody else to graduate?”
Mike knew he wanted to make that difference in Sheboygan County. “I really felt that I had been prepared in this district to be successful out there and I wanted to help students and young adults in my own community to meet some of those goals,” he said.
After graduating from Silver Lake College with a bachelor’s degree in education, Mike went on to teach Special Ed classes for several years. “Special Ed was great,” Mike said. “I loved working with my students.”
It was at this time that Mike had another epiphany: “I loved teaching, but I only had access to 20 to 25 students. I really felt that I could have an impact on a larger number of students,” he said.
To that end, Mike earned a master’s degree from Cardinal Stritch College and began exploring the administration end of education. Slowly but surely Mike found different opportunities for leadership and began building his resume in preparation for a principal’s position.
Eventually he took over as assistant principal at Farnsworth for someone who was on longterm disability. “That’s when I found out that this was the piece for me,” he said. And while he missed the one on one contact with students, he was excited about the possibility of impacting a whole group or class of students. “That was the piece that inspired me,” he said.
Mike said it took him 15 years after graduation before he found that niche. He was grateful to find it in the County he was so proud of and where he wanted to make a difference.
After Farnsworth, Mike went on to become principal at Sheridan Elementary. “The last time I had been in elementary school I graduated from fifth grade. The three years that I spent at Sheridan probably gave me the best foundation of my administrative career because I really got to see how important that elementary education is,” he said. “Sheridan was just an awesome building to work in.”
As much as Mike enjoyed Sheridan, he moved on to become principal at South High. He explained why. “I kept having this feeling that I wanted to help more students at a bigger level. It was another challenge,” he said of moving to South.
During the six years he spent at South, he started working at his doctorate from UW-Milwaukee, and is quite close to achieving that goal. And as he approaches the end of his very successful tenure at South, he hopes to bring the same model of excellence to Random Lake. “The successes we had here I’m really excited to take out there,” he said.
Mike is also excited by the fact that more and more students are opting to either stay in Sheboygan for employment or return to Sheboygan after furthering their education. He is hearing the “I can’t wait to leave Sheboygan” less and less. “I really believe that’s because of a couple of things…one is INSPIRE Sheboygan County,” he said of the organization he helped found. INSPIRE Sheboygan County’s goal is to educate students about opportunities for employment in Sheboygan County by connecting them with area business representatives. “There are awesome opportunities here,” Mike said. “We have more students than ever doing work-based learning, like youth apprenticeships. We see students that are creating a new path for themselves.”
And if Mike has his druthers, more and more students will find, like he did that that path leads right back to Sheboygan.
To learn more about the great career opportunities in Sheboygan County, please attend our Community Conversation on May 3rd at Blue Harbor. This conversation includes a panel full of local employers sharing their insight into the future of their careers. The event starts at 6:30 and is open to everyone in the community. Come and learn about why staying someplace better is the best place to be.