Making all kids who walk out of with a diploma “college ready” is one of Paul Thusius’s many goals in his new position as the high school’s principal.
And to do that, Thusius hopes to continually challenge students by adding more college preparatory and Advanced Placement classes to the curriculum in the coming years.
“We raise the bar, bottom line,” Thusius said. “Kids that go into the military should be college ready. Kids going right into a business should be college ready. Kids going into a two-year school should be college ready.
“The days of multiple jobs in manufacturing or the trades are shrinking. Part of that is because of the current economy and part of it is because those jobs are going elsewhere. How do we get everyone to buy into that, that the things that used to work won’t continue to work?”
Thusius taught social studies for 19 years, beginning in the Milwaukee Public School system, before moving on to the Fox Valley area and eventually Wauwatosa. Three years ago, he became the associate principal at Wauwatosa West.
Around four years ago, Thusius retired after 25 years as an Army reservist.
A colleague recommended he , created when former principal Darin Fahrney announced he’d accepted a position with the Singapore American School in the Republic of Singapore.
“Before I applied, I got online and found out everything I could from the (district) website,” Thusius said. “You look at the mission statement and the vision and the community support with the new school, I started reading about some of the things they are working on over the past two or three years and thought this is right in line with what I believe philosophically and where I stand on things.”
In addition to increasing classroom rigor, Thusius hopes to build the community within the school between students, staff and administration, as well as that outside the school walls. He wants to get parents and other community members more actively involved in high school activities.
In addition, he hopes to increase student-participation levels across the board.
“It seems to me there is about a third of the kids that have really bought in and are really active,” Thusius said. “They’re in the plays, the band and sports. But it’s only a third. That’s not a successful thing. How do we grow the opportunities for kids to be involved and encourage them to be involved in other things.”
Thusius’s first day was July 1. Since then he’s met with nearly every staff member individually in 30-minute sessions and he’s excited about the possibilities the staff and school hold. But Thusius understands there are challenges in front of him, particularly as teachers continue to they will be making as a result of Governor Scott Walker’s as the district hammers out its next budget.
“There is a financial reality of this for everyone,” Thusius said. “Benefits are changing dramatically, which has a direct impact on salary, which everyone has felt. But, I, in my heart, want to believe that educators got into education because of a desire to help kids and a desire to make people successful. We can’t let the things going on outside that have nothing to do with the kids impact the way we’re addressing the kids’ needs.”