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New principal will help keep STEM program rooted

Heun makes the move from Tosa East

July 25, 2012

While the unexpected resignation earlier this month of Wauwatosa STEM/Wilson Principal Mike Leach caught district officials off guard, they quickly filled the position with one of their own.

Mike Heun, associate principal at Tosa East, is moving into Leach's spot.

Superintendent Phil Ertl said Leach's departure was bad timing in light of the district's emphasis on its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program, but said Heun's transfer is "a good move" to maintain the school's focus.

Welcome move

Heun said he is excited about moving into the new role.

"I've been involved with every level of education, elementary, middle school and high school," Heun said. "I've been fortunate because not too many people can experience all of that."

Leading a STEM program at the elementary level also is a plus, Heun said.

"Developing science knowledge and interest at an early level is essential because you can sustain that through to middle and high school," he said. "The biggest influence on a child learning is the teaching staff. I am in the process of getting to know everyone at the school.

"My job will be to help them have the best possible environment they need to teach and the students to have the best environment to learn," he said.

Strong local roots

Heun knows something about learning early in the district.

He attended Roosevelt and Longfellow before graduating from East. There, he played basketball well enough to get a scholarship to St. Norbert College in De Pere. He earned a bachelor's degree in education. He has since earned two graduate degrees in educational technology and leadership from Cardinal Stritch University.

He said his math minor also helps him appreciate the STEM program.

"I loved science as a student," he said. "I really enjoyed the inquiry-based studies."

Heun's early teaching career was spent in the Mequon-Thiensville School District, where he taught several elementary grades and coached basketball. He came to Wauwatosa in 2007 and taught middle school, continued coaching and eventually became associate principal at East. He also has been involved in summer school administration.

Director of Human Resources Dan Chanen, district liaison to the STEM charter at the school, said Tosa roots run broader than Heun and Leach.

"You find a number of local connections throughout the district," Chanen said. "There are strong ties here."

Heun said local ties make adhering to district mission a natural part of the job.

"I believe in the mission here," he said, "that we are here to provide an environment for every student to grow intellectually, emotionally and socially."

Succession plan

Heun follows another Wauwatosa native in Leach, who was with the district for seven years and left only after getting a middle school STEM opportunity in Waukesha.

"I grew up in Wauwatosa," Leach said. "It was a tough decision, but the opportunity is a good one."

Heun said he knows that sometimes a void is felt when a principal or teacher leaves a position. He said he hopes his familiarity with the district and many of the teachers and administrators will be helpful.

Chanen concurs, and is glad the district was able to fill the position so effectively.

"We wish Mike Leach all the best and we are very happy that Mike Heun is moving into the principal role at STEM and Wilson," he said.

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