Reflections on 40 Years at USM

I have been part of University School of Milwaukee for 40 years, which is strange to write because it hasn’t felt like 40 years. The time has passed in the blink of an eye. During my career, I have been blessed to take on many different roles that have challenged me, strengthened me, inspired me, and validated my decision to be an educator.

Over the years, I have been a French teacher, grade level coordinator, world language department chair, academic dean and now, head of Middle School. Many people ask me what my path looked like to this current leadership role. Did I always want to be a principal? Do I miss the kids? Do I like what I’m doing? Sometimes when I tell people that I’m a Middle School principal, they just shake their heads in disbelief. But I have to say, although I never intended to be in administration, I do love it. The past 10 years have been a great professional challenge for me, and an interesting and rewarding journey. In my division, no two days are alike.

Middle School is an interesting time in a child’s development. Students in these grades bring a unique set of strengths and challenges to the table. What makes our division work so well is that we have teachers who love and understand Middle School students. We work with them day after day and keep coming back with smiles on our faces because we appreciate this quirky age. Nothing is more gratifying than helping children work through young adolescent challenges, teaching them life skills, and watching them cross the stage at graduation, knowing that you had a big part in their success.

Of course, I miss being in the classroom. But over the years, I came to realize that I still am engaged with the students, just in a very different way. Although I no longer impact students via the classroom, my daily work affects them in a number of ways: hiring and supporting great teachers; working with committees to design or adopt new programs; and leading the implementation of our current strategic plan that has ramifications for students of all ages.

The need to always keep in mind the big picture of a student’s education at USM has given me greater appreciation for our well-balanced machine that starts in PK and ends at 12th-grade graduation. The dedication and passion of everyone who works here to always make USM a better place for all are evident in the myriad of conversations that I am involved in on a daily basis. When I came to USM 40 years ago as a very young educator, my goals were to make a difference in young people’s lives and to contribute positively to a school community. Those goals continue to energize and challenge me today.

Head of Middle School Pamela Nosbusch is the longest-tenured faculty at USM.

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