Gordon thrilled to be new St. John Vianney principal
Catholic education important to veteran educator
Chris Gordon wanted to get back to where "the fun happens."
For Gordon, this happens inside the classroom.
That's why she's so excited about her new role as St. John Vianney principal.
"It was the best match, and I wanted to get back into the schools," Gordon said. "I didn't want to talk about teaching, I wanted to lead."
She gets to do this now at the Brookfield Catholic school. Gordon had spent the last four years at Cardinal Stritch University in the College of Education and Leadership.
But she's now back to where she started — in a Catholic-based learning environment for youth.
Gordon began her career as a teacher at St. Lawrence School in Wisconsin Rapids. After that, she was a reading specialist and program coordinator at North Lake School in North Lake.
She used that experience to become the principal of the K-8 school in 1995, a position she held for seven years.
Her career then took her to Oconomowoc where she was the education director of the Oconomowoc Developmental Training Center, a nationally recognized provider of comprehensive residential treatment, educational and vocational services for children, adolescents and young adults with emotional, mental health, neurological or developmental disabilities.
When asked how this experience was different, Gordon said, "Children are children. Their personal needs might have been different but it was still about where we could take them academically. It's always about the individual."
Gordon said she relished that opportunity and called it a "wonderful place."
The school year is still young, but she's already saying the same thing about St. John Vianney.
"It's a very dynamic school," said Gordon, who grew up in Greendale. "We really focus on the individual student. There's a strong faith foundation. We're really doing some progressive things, relative to keeping up with the best practices."
Another area Gordon highlighted is the dedication she has seen throughout the school.
"We have an outstanding staff, and the families are so invested," Gordon said. "It's wonderful, and every day I spend here I see we have so much opportunity and potential. It's been a lot of fun working with everybody.
"The moms and dads are very visible with their presence, volunteering during the day as well as before and after school."
Gordon's predecessor, Pamela Pyzyk, is still a presence, serving as the president of the school. The school recently went to a principal/president model. As president, Pyzyk is responsible for development and fundraising as well as marketing, public relations and long-range strategic planning.
"Having her physically here in the building is awesome," Gordon said. "I get a mentor to see how things work here. She's fun and charismatic."
Gordon is a member of St. Jerome Catholic Church in Oconomowoc, the city where she lives.
She attends Mass there on the weekends but is a regular at St. John Vianney's weekday 7 a.m. service. In fact, that was one of the selling points in accepting the position at St. John Vianney School.
"It was one of the things that made it special," Gordon said. "That was a major factor for me coming here. It's easier for me to start my day with prayer."
After Mass, she's then ready to begin her day within the St. John Vianney halls.
It's a place, she said, where she's most comfortable.
"My whole career," Gordon said, "I've gotten up and gone to school."
At a glance
WHO: Chris Gordon, St. John Vianney's new principal
EDUCATION: received education degree and educational leadership assessment master's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; also has a focus in reading and gifted education and did graduate studies at multiple Catholic universities
HISTORY: St. Lawrence School in Wisconsin Rapids (teacher), North Lake School (reading specialist, principal), Oconomowoc Developmental Training Center (education director), Cardinal Stritch University (College of Education and Leadership)
FAMILY: husband, Mark, three adult children and one granddaughter
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