“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.”
Deanne Lensert, one of Waunakee High School’s 3 new associate principals, went on to explain how she always loved school; she just enjoyed the setting.
She originally imagined herself an elementary teacher. But the age range got older over the years. An amazing teacher at Racine Case High School, Mrs. Hayward, fostered collaboration and critical thinking among her students, Lensert said. Lensert recalled thinking, “I want to be YOU when I grew up!”
Nor did Lensert have to fret about selecting a college to attend. She set her sights UW-Madison while watching the Badgers in the 1994 Rose Bowl. While she doesn’t recommend that to her students as the best way to choose a college, it worked for her. In addition to getting excellent preparation in her field, she met her husband there.
Lensert said, “Chad and I got together at a very difficult time. I lost my dad suddenly when I was 19 and a freshman in college. He and I had just started dating. He stood by me through all of that.”
Lensert described their relationship as a true partnership.
“The way we support one another, I have no idea what I would do without him. He motivates me to be a better human,” she said.
Admittedly, the couple is so competitive they won’t play games against each other. But that competition plays out positively in other ways.
“He’ll tell you he’s done things he thought he’d never, do and I’ve done things that I didn’t think I’d ever do. I’m the school person, but he got his masters degree first. And he’s the athlete, but I actually ran the half marathon first!” she said.
She began in the classroom in 2006 teaching Social Studies and English at Baraboo High School. She “loved every second of it,” she said.
Toward the end of her six years there, Lensert began a master’s program for her administrator’s license when a principal encouraged her to “expand your classroom and use your talents in a larger setting,” she said.
She went on the DeForest schools where she transitioned from teacher to part-time administrator. For the past 4 years, she’s been associate principal in Mount Horeb.
What Lensert missed most leaving the classroom was the positive connection with many students on a regular basis. While as an administrator, “You see fewer kids. And it’s not always under the best of circumstances, right?
“Then I realized that the relationships that I was forming…were really, really significant. I could really help them learn and motivate them to make better choices, to be there for them when sometimes nobody was.”
When asked about any misconceptions the public might have about an administrator’s job, Lensert offered, “People might be surprised at the pace of the day. It’s never boring – which is so much fun! I put on close to 10 or 11 thousand steps every day at work.”
Deanne and Chad started building in the Waunakee school district in 2007.
“I had been in schools long enough to know about their tradition for excellence and this is where we wanted to raise a family,” she remembered.
Lensert grew excited discussing their Nature Valley neighborhood.
“My neighbors and my close friends have helped me raise my family. They’re my go-to village. We’re a close-knit tight community. We’re all helping each other. I absolutely love it!”
Lensert’s 15-year-old son, Davis, is a talented trumpet player and an avid football player. Maya, her 11-year old daughter, plays softball and adores dancing. The whole family loves the Badgers and time on their Chaparral ski boat.
“Davis likes to ski. Maya likes to tube. I like to sit in the boat and watch them,” smiled their mom.
She summed up, “From early on I was raised with a sense of public service and I feel this is my way of being able to serve.”
Starting this fall at WHS, it’s all come full circle.
“My kids have benefited from our neighbors, our friends, amazing coaches and teachers in this community. So the idea that now I get to give back to my own community and pay that forward is just a dream come true,” Lensert said.
“I really feel like all the paths led me here and this is where I’m meant to be. I could not be more excited. Honestly.”
And what about their new associate principal would surprise her new students? “The thing they ALWAYS mention? They’re surprised that I like rap music!”