The Cambridge School District has named three finalists for its next superintendent, and has begun holding public forums with each.
Current superintendent Bernie Nikolay will retire this summer.
The three finalists are Shannon Kilton, assistant superintendent of the Glendale-River Hills School District; Margaret Banker, superintendent of the Montello School District; and Peter Wilson, director of administrative services for the DeForest Area School District.
The Cambridge School Board held first-round interviews March 16-18, narrowing the field from nine candidates to three.
The district announced the three finalists on March 19 on social media.
The Cambridge School Board will hold final interviews on March 25 and expects to announce its choice in April.
The district held public forums with each finalist on March 22, 23 and 24. The events gave school staff, administrators and community members a chance to meet finalists and to ask questions.
Kilton met with community members on March 22, Banker on March 23 and Wilson on March 24.
Coverage of the March 23 and 24 candidate forums with Banker and Wilson, will appear in the April 1 print edition of the Cambridge News & Deerfield Independent and will be posted to the newspaper’s website.
The forum with Kilton on March 22 was moderated by search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates of Schaumburg Ill.
Kilton shared her background, educational philosophies and core values, and answered questions from parents and community members.
Kilton grew up in Sheboygan and currently lives in the Milwaukee area. She’s been an assistant superintendent in the Glendale-River Hills School District since 2016.
Kilton began her career as a teacher in the Milwaukee public schools. She has also worked in West Bend, Appleton and Zion, Illinois.
She has been a teacher, elementary and middle school principal, and assistant superintendent. She first became a principal at age 29.
Kilton shared that she attended UW-Whitewater, earning a bachelor’s degree. She also played four years of collegiate softball at UW-Whitewater. She has a master’s degree in educational leadership, and earned an educational specialist district leadership license, both from National Louis University.
She’s a member of the Aspiring Superintendents Academy, a nation-wide professional group.
Kilton said she prioritizes social emotional learning, taking a “family first” approach with parents and staff members, and would strive to be visible and part of the community.
“You can expect to see me in your child’s classrooms, at your child’s events,” Kilton said. “I’m a visible leader and people will know me by face and by name.”
She further shared she has experience in leadership during crises and understands the need to support teachers and staff members.
Kilton listed some of her other core values as collaboration, reflective education, relationships, communication, support, and inclusion.
She spoke about the importance of serving all students and preparing them for a diverse world. While Kilton said she works in a very diverse school district now, she said equity is important in any district.
“It is our job to make sure that our students are prepared for what the world looks like outside of our communities,” Kilton said.
Her educational philosophy, Kilton said, is “we are responsible for every kid, every day, whatever it takes.”
Community members and parents asked Kilton questions about her district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and what new classroom practices will continue after the pandemic.
Kiltion said she expects the popularity of virtual learning to continue, and practices like online professional development for staff to stick around. She added that her district’s response to COVID-19 involved planning for every possible scenario and data tracking.
Banker has been superintendent of the Montello School District since 2017, a statement from the Cambridge School District said.
She previously worked in the Madison Metropolitan and Sun Prairie school districts.
Some of her previous roles include English teacher, library media specialist, principal, director of professional learning and support team coordinator.
Banker has a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education, a master’s degree in library and information science from UW-Madison and a doctoral degree (Ed.D) in educational leadership from Edgewood College.
She’s a member of the Wisconsin Department of Instruction Advisory Council for Charter Schools and is a Deeper Learning Equity Fellow.
Wilson has been the director of administrative services in the Deforest Area School District since 2016, the Cambridge school district’s statement said.
Wilson previously worked in the Stoughton and Waunakee school districts. He has previously been a director of student services, principal of schools in both districts and a fifth-grade teacher.
Wilson has a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Grand Valley State University, a master’s degree in educational leadership from UW-Madison and a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D) in educational leadership from UW-Madison.
He teaches leadership and special education at Cardinal Stritch University and is on the board for the Wisconsin Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
The school district is on the final leg of the hiring process that began in December with the hiring of HYA.
HYA moderated the candidate forums on March 22, 23 and 24, as well as conducted a survey and focus group interviews to build a leadership report for the district to hire based on.
Cambridge School Board President Tracy Smithback-Travis said in a statement that the search “generated strong interest from top educational leaders across the state and region. This interest is directly related to the strength of our schools including our teachers, staff, families, leadership, facilities, programs and our overall community assets.”
“The board sincerely appreciates the tremendous insights from the discussion groups and surveys to narrow the selection to these exceptional candidates,” Smithback-Travis said.