UPDATE: 1st Day on the Job for New MMSD Superintendent Cheatham

UPDATED Monday, April 1--- 5:26 p.m.

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham started her job at the Madison School District Monday.

NBC15's Britni McDonald sat down with her to discuss her plans.

She said, "It feels great to get into the job and roll up my sleeves and get started."

Cheatham says she does not plan on spending much time in her office for the first 90 days. She'll be out in the community and promises to visit every school in the district by the end of May.

"I can't wait to see the kids and talk with the teachers and talk with the principal and get everything going," she said. "I won't be able to develop a strategy that meets out goals as a district without really listening and learning from the people of Madison."

Cheatham plans on paying close attention to teacher quality.

She spent her first morning on the job looking over the budget and said there will be difficult discussions ahead.

"We're going to have to think about how to use our limited resources even more efficiently than we already are."

Her main focus is seeing students succeed by narrowing the achievement gap, which she admits is no easy task.

"It's going to take focused work, determination, tenacity to do what we know works well and do it for a sustained period of time."

Sustainable long term change is what she says is her overall approach to the role as superintendent.

"You'll see that I'm going to be very focused on identifying a small set of powerful strategies that will produce positive change in the school district."

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UPDATED Monday, April 1, 2013 --- 4:05 p.m.

April 1st was Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham's first day on the job at the Madison School District.

We sat down to talk with Cheatham, and will hear from here tonight on NBC15 News at 5 and 6.

Cheatham plans to visit the following schools in the upcoming days.

4/18 East High School
5/9 West High School
5/16 Memorial High School
5/30 La Follette High School

Each day will include a meeting in the evening for parents and community members to talk with the superintendent about what's working and what needs to improve in the district. Those meetings will be at 6:30 p.m.

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 19, 2013 --- 12:54 p.m.

From the Madison School District:

-Jennifer Cheatham to Meet with Students, Staff, Parents, Community Members
-Incoming Superintendent Releases Entry Plan

Dr. Jennifer Cheatham plans to visit schools and neighborhoods and hear broadly from students, teachers, staff, principals, parents and community members in her first weeks on the job. Cheatham will start on April 1 and today released plans for her first 90 days.

“It is a tremendous honor to lead the Madison Metropolitan School District and commit myself to ensuring that every school is a thriving school that prepares every student for college and career,” Cheatham said. “I want to begin my work by listening and learning about the district’s strengths, challenges and opportunities for improvement.”

Cheatham’s entry plan includes meeting with students, parents, teachers, staff, principals and community members, as well as gathering and analyzing school and district data.

“I look forward to building a deep and rich understanding through an analysis of multiple perspectives,” Cheatham said. “This entry plan will help guide my work and ensure that we build on the strengths of the district while identifying the most powerful strategies for addressing its challenges.”

Cheatham’s full entry plan is available by clicking HERE.

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Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 --- 1:00 p.m.

Press release: from MMSD

Board of Education Selects Dr. Jennifer Cheatham as Superintendent

The Madison Metropolitan Board of Education announced today that it has selected Dr. Jennifer Cheatham as Superintendent of Schools, pending successful contract negotiations.

“Jennifer Cheatham is a visionary leader with an excellent track record on narrowing the achievement gap,” Board President James Howard said. “She is passionate and determined while being collaborative and inclusive. She is an excellent choice for our district and will take MMSD where it needs to go.”

“I consider it an honor and privilege to serve the Madison community,” Cheatham said. “I look forward to working together to ensure that every child attends a thriving school that prepares them for college and career. I enjoyed the opportunity to answer important and thoughtful questions from the public, and I look forward to working for a community that cares so deeply about public education.”

Dr. Cheatham is currently the Chief of Instruction for Chicago Public Schools. Her focus is on systemic improvement in urban school districts. Her expertise lies in developing instructional alignment and coherence aimed at achieving breakthrough results in student learning. Cheatham has also worked as a Chief Area Officer for Chicago Public Schools, the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction for San Diego City Schools, and a coach and professional developer for the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative. Cheatham also served as a teacher in the Newark Unified School District.

On Thursday, Cheatham had a final interview with the Board, met with district staff, visited a school and participated in a community forum.

“We want to thank community members for participating in the forum, asking tough questions and giving us your comments,” Howard said. “After seeing Dr. Cheatham meet members of the community and district staff we are even more impressed with what she can offer Madison schools. She is the right leader for our district.”
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Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 --- 12:50 p.m.

A letter sent to parents in the Madison Metropolitan School District confirms Jennifer Cheatham has been selected as the new superintendent.

The email from the school board:

Dear MMSD Families,

Many thanks to all who participated in the superintendent search process and given us your input. We appreciate the extra time you took to be involved.

We are so pleased that we have found a visionary leader, and we want you to be among the first to know that we have selected Dr. Jennifer Cheatham as our next Superintendent.

Jen is a proven leader with an excellent track record on narrowing the achievement gap. She is passionate and determined while being collaborative and inclusive. She is an excellent choice for our district and will take MMSD where it needs to go.

We want to thank community members for participating in the forum, asking tough questions and giving us your comments. After seeing Dr. Cheatham meet members of the community and district staff, we are even more impressed with what she can offer Madison schools. She is the right leader for our district.

Thank you,

Board of Education

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Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 -- 11:06 p.m.

There is only one finalist for the Madison Schools superintendent job.

Doctor Walter Milton Jr. says the Madison school district is not the right fit for him. He withdrew his application Tuesday night.

That leaves Doctor Jennifer Cheatham, Chief of Instruction at Chicago Public Schools, as the only finalist.

NBC15 spoke with, Rachel Strauch-Nelson, the district's communications coordinator, Tuesday night. She says the school board still considers this a "decision making process."

Cheatham will be in Madison on Thursday for a final interview and community forum.

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Posted Sunday, February 3, 2013 --- 11:38 a.m.

Press Release from the Madison Metropolitan School District:

Board of Education Names Two Finalists for Superintendent of Schools,

Invites Community to Forum

The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education today named two finalists for the Superintendent of Schools. Following a national search, the initial paper screening by the Board’s search consultants, a paper screening by the Board and an initial round of interviews, the Board has identified the following finalists:

-Dr. Jennifer Cheatham, Chief of Instruction, Chicago Public Schools
-Dr. Walter Milton, Jr., Superintendent, Springfield Public Schools, Springfield IL

“We are excited about the caliber of our finalists, and we are eager to give the community the opportunity to meet these outstanding candidates,” said Board President James Howard.

Finalists will participate in a community forum on Thursday, February 7 at 5:45pm at the Monona Terrace. Community members will have the opportunity to hear from the finalists and ask questions.

In addition to the community forum, finalists will also visit schools, meet with district staff and have their final interview with the Board.

If community members are unable to attend the forum, they are also invited to submit their comments to board@madison.k12.wi.us.

The Board started the search process this fall by asking the community for input. Using that input, the Board’s search consultants, Ray and Associates, developed a profile of what the district and community is looking for in a superintendent. Ray and Associates used that profile over three months of national recruitment. Through that search, 65 candidates were screened.


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