by Emily Armentrout
Recently, Wabash City Schools and the Metropolitan School District of Wabash County announced their hire of Melissa Brisco, who will be the Chief Academic Officer for both districts. Brisco fills the position of Lavonne Sparling at MSD of Wabash County and of Jan Roland at Wabash City Schools, both of which retired at the end of the 2013-14 school year.
Brisco comes to Wabash County from Noblesville High School, where she taught for 10 years before moving to MSD of Wayne Township to be assistant principal and eventually principal. She later moved back to Noblesville High School to be the Director of Learning, working with Title I and Title III. Title I is a federally funded grant for schools that have a large population of free and reduced lunch to help close the equity gap. Title III is a program to support English as a second language.
Brisco went to Marion College, Indianapolis, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. She completed her Master’s at Butler University in their Administration program and is currently pursuing her doctorate at Indiana University, where she hopes to graduate in December. She comes from a family where education runs in their blood. Her parents were both educators, along with her brother and sister-in-law. She is the youngest of four kids and a twin.
With three school districts in Wabash County, consolidation is always on the mind of the community whenever schools make changes that bring them together. The joint hire by MSD of Wabash County and Wabash City Schools is only an opportunity to collaborate when it comes to their resources. “This cooperation between Wabash City School and MSD allows us an opportunity to gain expertise in the curriculum field and will also help us to build relationships with our surrounding neighbors,” Jason Callahan, Wabash City Schools' superintendent, told The Paper.
According to Dr. Sandra Weaver, superintendent of MSD of Wabash County, Brisco brings a sense of relationship that the districts are looking for. “She emphasized that she is a relationship person and that is important to us and is one of the best ways to move people forward.”
“I think in order to accomplish any goal, you have to establish relationships. You have to have a community with the students and the teachers and administrators, with all the stakeholders. In order to do anything collaboratively, you’ve got to have a trusting, solid foundation of a relationship. That’s important,” said of the relationships she hopes to have with the district members.
Brisco’s official start date is Aug. 1 but she recently met with both districts, starting to build the relationships she believes will be keys the success of this venture. “Getting to develop relationships with both corporations and the entire community is where I start. We have to start with understanding the community,” Brisco told The Paper.
Though their meetings didn’t get all the details nailed out, Brisco isn’t worried that it will be an ongoing learning process. “First of all, we’re building as we go. I spent the morning with WCS, with their administration team, getting to know their priorities and their strategic plan and getting to know the personnel. I spent the afternoon with MSD with central office, getting to know them. Right now, it’s getting to know the priorities of each district and trying to find ways we can collaborate initially and where I can support each district. That’s how I see it right now. The future is the future. We’ll build it as we go. Right now it is getting to know people, getting to know the organizations, getting to know the priorities. Then we can find out what the future looks like,” said Brisco.
Both superintendents also seem optimistic about the future of the districts with Brisco’s help. “I believe Ms. Brisco will be able to help us continue to align our curriculum K-12 and help establish the professional development necessary so that we continue to offer a relevant and rigorous education to ensure each student is college and career-ready for success in a global community,” Mr. Callahan told The Paper.
“Melissa will learn from the legacy left to this district by Lavonne Sparling and take us to the next level,” added Dr. Weaver.
Everyone involved agree this venture will be a work in progress. “I’d like to tell you that today I have a plan, but I don’t necessarily have a plan yet. As I get to know both corporations and work with the administrative team and the teachers, I can better decide how we bring people together for a purpose and what that’s going to look like. When I say that we’re building it as we go, we’ll be building it as we go,” said Brisco.
When asked what is one thing she would like the community to know about her, she answered it was her passion. ““I am pretty passionate about what I do. I want to respect MSD and Wabash City Schools. I am very passionate about education for kids. People say ‘doing what’s best for kids,’ but it’s really doing what is best for students to develop into what they can become. If there is one thing for the community to know about me it is that education is my life. My parents were educators. I have a brother and sister-in-law who were in education. I’m pretty passionate about the field and doing what is best for the kids.”