For some, a passion for education develops later in life. It may be found after a connection is built with another inspiring educator or sparked by the care of a great teacher. For others like Nikki Wixo, the Academic Dean and High School Principal with Central Cass School District, that passion can be recognized early on.
“I wouldn’t say that it was someone or something that inspired me to pursue education as much as the experiences in my youth that led me there. I babysat, taught swimming lessons, and worked at daycares. It was always apparent that working with kids was my passion,” Wixo said.
Now, with 18 years’ experience in the field, three of which she’s been in her current position, Wixo speaks toward the pride she feels to be a part of Central Cass because of their passion to serve students to the best of their abilities.
“Central Cass is unique because our K-12 district is still housed in one building. We have a small town feel with a large enough population to offer our kids experiences that mimic large districts. I am proud to be a Squirrel because we are always striving to do what’s best for kids, and we try not to lose sight of that goal in all we do,” Wixo said.
The mission of Central Cass, “to foster student excellence in cooperation with family and community and to provide educational opportunities in a safe and caring environment,” affirms the culture that Wixo speaks toward.
Within this school year, Wixo says that the three focus areas of the district have been mainly on STEM, MTSS, and Strategic Long-Term Planning. Keeping with the culture, the administrators and staff alike have stepped in and committed to working toward improvement.
“Our staff has stepped up to the plate to learn all they can, as we begin implementation, we have staff on many levels of comfort and implementation and we are okay with that. Our staff knows that these pathways are a need to help us operate successfully,” Wixo said.
In regard to long-term vision, Central Cass hopes to operate K-12 with their reading, math, and behavior pathways in place. They’re currently working with Schatz & Associates, LLC to work through the strategic planning process with a committee made up of stakeholders within the district.
“It’s always an obstacle to look at where you have been, where you are, and figure out where you are going. Everything feels important but prioritizing those goals is so important. The long-term vision is that we will operate with a Strategic Plan that will guide decision making on a planning, administrative, and board level for our school district, ”Wixo said.
As for looking toward next school year, Wixo says Central Cass will continue to work through MTSS pathways and that ESSA is also a topic to continue evaluating.
“We have a lot of work to continue but we will continue to look at what it all means for our students, teachers, and administrators,” Wixo said.