New Fox Point-Bayside School District superintendent Milwaukee-area native
Vance Dalzin calls Fox Point-Bayside his 'destination district'
Fox Point — To incoming Superintendent Vance Dalzin, working in the Fox Point-Bayside School District is almost like coming home.
Dalzin, 48, grew up on Milwaukee's south side, the middle child in a group of five brothers. His parents divorced while he was in fourth grade, and when his mother remarried while he was a sophomore in high school the family moved to Delafield and into the Kettle Moraine School District.
Dalzin describes his younger self as average almost to a fault — so average that his old high school teachers are surprised to learn he is now a superintendent.
However, after high school he would prove that notion false.
Dalzin attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he studied political science, got an education certification and met his future wife, Diane.
After stints in two districts as a middle school teacher and coach, he landed an assistant principal job in Wilmot at the age of 27.
Up through the ranks
By 30, Dalzin recalls with pride, he was promoted to principal.
Eventually when Dalzin was back in Whitewater as princpal of Whitewater High School, and Diane was pregnant with their third child, he found himself trying to juggle "being a dad, a high school principal, husband and a community guy."
From Whitewater, Dalzin in 2011 made the transition to superintendent of the Williams Bay School District, a relatively small K-12 district with fewer than 600 students.
He said Fox Point-Bayside, with its mixture of urban and suburban surroundings, is reminiscent of his childhood district in Milwaukee and Waukesha.
"It was the right time to find my destination job," Dalzin said, "and this is my destination district."
Dalzin has a gameplan in place for the two looming challenges of the Fox Point-Bayside District: solving the relationship problem that has grown between the community and administration and selling taxpayers on an operational referendum, which has slowly been gaining steam since last summer.
So far, as remedying the bond between district and community is concerned, Dalzin said his best tool will be good hiring, since the district will also be seeing turnover in the key roles of business manager and elementary school principal.
"The plan is to hire people who are hard working, student centered and focused on being collaborative leaders," Dalzin said, "who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work with staff, parents, board members and the community."
Dalzin has experience with operational and capital referenda from his past districts. He said the key is being up front with voters.
"You have to be honest with people, and give good information to people," he said. "There's a credibility factor, where they trust you to do the right thing with their kids."
With the right people, and the right attitude, Dalzin said Fox Point-Bayside can continue to be a great school system and continue to evolve into the 21st century.
"It's an exciting place to be," Dalzin said. "I'm up to the challenge, and I think I can provide the leadership."
— Michael Meidenbauer
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