Dowagiac Union Schools narrows superintendent search to two candidates

Published 11:07 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2024

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DOWAGIAC — After two full evenings of interviews, Dowagiac Union Schools narrowed its superintendent search to two individuals.

Following interviews Tuesday and Wednesday, the board of education selected Matthew Waggoner, Director of Curriculum at Watervliet Public Schools, and Greg Blomgren, Principal at St. Joseph High School, to move forward to a second round of interviews. 

The Board of Education extended invitations to four candidates to interview for the position, which is available due to the retirement of Superintendent Jonathan Whan following the conclusion of the school year. Candidates also interviewed were Dr. Daniel Hyliard, 10th-12th Grade Class Principal at Ann Arbor High School, and Ryan Williamson, Principal at South Haven High School.

The process has been facilitated by the Michigan Leadership Institute.

Waggoner has a Master’s in Educational Technology from Western Michigan University. He began his career as a biology teacher at River Valley Schools before moving on to serve Berrien Springs Public Schools for 19 years in a variety of roles including Virtual Academy Director, Executive Director of Technology and Assistant Superintendent. He has served as Watervliet’s Director of Curriculum and Intervention since December 2020. He currently lives in Buchanan.

Blomgren graduated from Grand View College in 1996 where he played three years of college basketball. He earned his teaching certification from the University of Wisconsin at Parkside in 1999. He has served as principal of St. Joseph High School since 2016 and has been with the district since 2009, serving in roles such as the Dean of Students, Assistant Principal and head boys basketball coach. Prior to that, he spent six years with Dowagiac Union Schools as a biology teacher and boys basketball coach, including spending one season as coach of both the boys and girls teams. He currently lives in Sister Lakes.

“I think we chose the right company to facilitate our interviews,” said Board President Robert Ickes. “They did good research. They got us some good candidates. I think the two we’re going to interview next week are both very strong candidates. It’s going to be a tough decision. I think either one would be great for our community.”

Two interviews were conducted Tuesday night and two Wednesday night. The board asked each candidate 14 questions and members of the public submitted questions, with the interviews being approximately 75 minutes in length. After the interviews were concluded, the board members chose the top two candidates moving onto the final round.

The finalists will participate in a second round of interviews set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 21. Prior to the interviews, each candidate will participate in a full day of school visits.

It is anticipated that the board will select its new superintendent following the conclusion of the interviews.

The Board anticipates the new superintendent will begin duties on July 1. 

“We want someone who is ‘students first,’” Ickes said. “For both of our candidates, that’s their number one thing, which it should be. We’re looking for, uh, safe kids, happy kids, well-educated kids, happy staff. We want everybody to feel represented. In these tough times, we’ve got to be budget-oriented too. They’re handling staffs, students and money and it’s tough.That’s just our world right now but we’ve got some good candidates. I’m pretty confident we’re gonna do well.”