Welcoming New District Leadership

MISD is entering this school year with a few new leaders but all have familiar faces. Dr. Janelle Brouwer has been promoted from Assistant Superintendent to Superintendent, Gretchen Kriegel comes back to MISD as Assistant Superintendent and Christie VanWey is the Business Manager.

Janelle Brouwer has been in the district for the past three years as Assistant Superintendent. She started as an elementary teacher, then a special education teacher at both the elementary and middle school levels. Brouwer progressed through the education system continuing on to Special Education Coordinator at Central Rivers Area Education Agency before becoming a building principal in the Western Dubuque County Community School District.

Brouwer’s own education history of attending a small Iowa school is what initially drew her to MISD in her Assistant Superintendent role. Then after reading the job description, knowing she would be responsible for curriculum, special education, Title 1, ELL, and teacher professional development she knew this was a perfect fit for her as she has plenty of experience and passion in all of those areas.

She is looking forward to this new opportunity in the district as Superintendent. A few goals that fill the plate this year include expanding “my own learning as I step into the superintendent role,” says Brouwer. More specifically she plans to “empower people to use their own strengths, skills, and talents towards our mission as a district. This district is full of great people that are already working in a collaborative culture—but I want to increase the opportunity for more collaboration and allow those people that are leading, to lead even more.”

While Brouwer is not in the buildings or attending school activities she can be found with her family; husband Kyle, and two kids; in Cascade being outside and enjoying nature or finding some way to exercise whether it be biking, running, or some other activity. Brouwer is proud of her Iowa roots as a “true Iowa farm girl” that comes from a family where dad was a farmer and mom was a school teacher, teaching her what it means to work hard and have passion about education and community.

Brouwer plans to connect the district with the community more in the future as “they are important partners in the successful outcome of our kids. The teachers, staff, and students are working hard under increasing expectations and demands with limited resources and yet they continue to achieve positive outcomes. The community plays a huge role in that success. Every kid deserves a champion, and for MISD, that champion is the community.”

Christie VanWey comes back to MISD in her new role as Business Manager for the district. A graduate of MISD, VanWey is no stranger to the area as she has lived in Marion since she was 5 years old. As Business Manager she will be responsible for all budgetary and financial aspects of the district, oversight of the Food Service Program and Transportation/Maintenance teams, and will serve as Board of Education Secretary.

To prepare VanWey for this role she worked in the accounting field from 1993-2001.  After taking a 10-year sabbatical to be a stay-at-home mom to her own MISD kids, Christie returned to the working field as a Para educator at Vernon Middle School before becoming the Guidance Secretary at the high school. She then transitioned back to accounting for a short time at Linn-Mar Community School District before becoming the Business Manager at Alburnett Community Schools and then Center Point-Urbana Community Schools. When the opportunity presented to come back to MISD, Christie jumped at the chance and has been in her current role since May.

Her big plans for her first year are to review the facilities 5-year plan for the district and make sure that MISD is on track to keep all of the buildings and properties in good shape for the staff, students, and community. One new process that she has already implemented is a new spending program, PCards, that will make day-to-day purchasing simpler but more importantly open the door for the district to take advantage of the government spending program’s rewards in the form of cash rebates.

Coming back to MISD has always been VanWey’s goal through her various career endeavors as it has always been home. Married to her high school sweetheart, Brent, Christie enjoys boating, vacations with family, and attending her children’s activities at Marion.

Also rejoining MISD is Gretchen Kriegel as Assistant Superintendent. Kriegel comes back to MISD after some time away as a teacher at Benton High School and Westridge Elementary, Assistant Sector Coordinator at Keystone Area Agency (AEA) in Dubuque, and most recently as Curriculum Director and Special Education Director at Monticello Community School District.

Gretchen is excited “for the opportunity to return and take on this position. I was always looking at coming back and this was just perfect timing. I have always enjoyed MISD and working with the staff here.”

As Assistant Superintendent Kriegel will continue some of the same responsibilities she held at Monticello in that she will lead MISD’s curriculum, special education program and ELL program. She is also responsible for interpretation and implementation of the results from the new Iowa Assessments taken in the spring under the direction of the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

While there has been a lot of change in education and in the Marion district, Kriegel is looking forward to learning all of the programs that are implemented here, reconnecting with the teachers she worked with, and getting to know the rest of the district staff. On the top of the goal list for this school year is adoption of a new PK-6 math curriculum and fine-tuning the district’s behavioral services.

Outside of work Kriegel loves the outdoors, kayaking, reading, attending her children’s events, and traveling. Her latest adventure including road-tripping 1,901 miles across the western United States with her 3 daughters, her sister, and her 2 children.  “It was a great time, especially when we were held hostage for over an hour, more than once, by buffalo blocking the road in Yellowstone National Park because they were eating the grass in the middle of the road.”

Kriegel is looking forward to this year as “the district is set up for many great things.  There is a lot of great community support for the students, staff, and district and all of that makes me very excited to be back.”