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Approachability, Visibility Important to Superintendent Candidate

Susan Borden, one of two finalists for Greendale superintendent, has served as superintendent of the Germantown School District for the past two years.

Superintendent candidate Susan Borden likes to be visible to and approachable by community members, and sees Greendale as a perfect place to do that.

Borden is a former teacher and elementary school principal who has worked in Franklin and Muskego. She has spent the last two years as superintendent for the Germantown School District.

 Borden held her meet-and-greet session Tuesday evening, and told school officials and community members that she’s interested in coming to Greendale for the small town charm.

Borden has a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She served as one of 30 superintendents from the United States who participated in a US-China delegation, and she has lived in and done service work overseas, including in Tokyo and France.

Borden has been impressed with collaboration between the district and the village departments in Greendale, and looks forward to continuing that.

She said she is used to a collaborative environment, and cited an example from Germantown, where the district worked with the police to identify a missing boy. A picture was sent to her, and she forwarded it to the principals who were able to identify him in “45 seconds.” She hopes to continue this kind of collaboration in Greendale.

She also stressed the importance of approachability and visibility in the school district.

“Typically I’m the person you see walking into the football game handing out the roster with some bit of school news,” Borden said who has attended 200 to 350 community events a year during her time in Germantown.

Borden is a member of a chamber executive board, worked with Germantown scholarship fund and sits on a hospital board.

In order to engage the community Borden says it’s important to reach out in formal and informal settings. Schools should not expect the community to come to them because not everyone has kids in the district, she says.

When asked how she was going to keep Greendale a destination school district she said it's all about marketing. Borden says schools usually don’t boast about themselves and should. To keep Greendale a destination she says the district needs to be pro-active with its visibility.

Borden says research shows the two most powerful things in a school district are the quality of classroom teachers and the quality of district leadership. "It’s indisputable,” she said.

Borden, who originally applied for the human resources director at Germantown, said that human resources seemed natural because she specializes in best hiring practices based on student achievement. After Borden applied for the human resources director position at Germantown she was asked to apply for the superintendent position and has been in that position for the past two years.

After she said that her father was a life-long union president she was asked how she plans to work with the tools Act 10 has to offer. Her response was, “I don’t know what it’s like to be a superintendent before Act 10… Now you got a new generation of superintendents that have never known anything different. I don’t think it’s about being for Act 10 or being for unions. I think it’s about thinking what’s best for the district’s kids and what’s best for the community…. I really have to focus on finance, instruction, good hiring and pupil services.”

Someone asked her about diversity and Borden says that it’s necessary to help the community understand the growth of diversity, which includes ethnic, faculty and economic diversity.

A number of Germantown teachers sat in the forum, including a Greendale parent.

“Dr. Borden is the quintessential professional and the teachers that are aware she might leave are in an anxious mood,” he said. “In the last couple of years with the political climate, it’s been dicey. She’s been the best advocate to protect programs and teachers. We hate to see her go, but if she has to go I’m glad it’s the school district I live in.” 

On a personal note, Borden is single with two dogs and currently lives in Sussex. She says she would definitely attempt to move to Greendale if she gets the job.

This position opened up earlier this year when  to take a position with Schools That Can Milwaukee.

's meet and greet. 

educationadvocate August 02, 2012 at 02:25 AM
As a Germantown parent, I know Dr. Borden will be missed greatly. She has brought the district forward by leaps and bounds. She has done so in a very professional manner and any attacks on her character are completely unfounded. The problem in Germantown is that people complain to each other. If you don't bring your concerns forward, how will the school system be able to address your concerns? It amazes me that those who have no qualifications to determine or evaluate an educator make it their business to attack her.
Fred Saunders August 02, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Borden, who originally applied for the human resources director at Germantown, instead decided that the lofty $160k or more salary paid by a small community of less than 15,000 residents was a much better way to feed her dogs. "It's all about marketing." It's also really good that she can forward pictures on her phone. Maybe the Greendale kids can assist her when she upgrades to her next phone.
educationadvocate August 03, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Hello ? Perhaps you should consult the DPI administrator's salary data page. And when's the last time you saw a census update. Germantown has over 23,000 residents, not including the towns and villages the school district supports. Ignorance must be bliss.
M.S. August 03, 2012 at 01:46 AM
... I just don't have the snark in me tonight. I will share facts/informed opinions instead. Between Tuesday night's community forum, and conversations with the few Germantown families who are involved in their schools, I have heard things that tell me that Borden's strengths are her approachability, desire to work with the community, and communication. She shows better vision in the area of instruction, though neither candidate really understands where technology and learning is heading. She has a point about marketing--the more resident enrollment, the better. Our schools are our asset in marketing homes and rental properties. Glad she is in touch with that! She does seem to have the skills and strengths that we are used to. Similar minimal experience (though actually has experience as Sup't, while Hughes went from Principal to our Sup't) as the last guy we hired. Definitely a better choice than the guy from TN. As far as salary, the board doesn't have to pay her the same salary as the Sup't who was here 14 years. She can work her way up to the salary maximum.
Fred Saunders August 03, 2012 at 02:36 AM
I am referring to Greendale. The story is on the Greendale Patch website. I can see how the confusion might occur. Hope that clears it up for you.

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