Please join the foundation in welcoming the Glendale-River Hills School District’s new superintendent! Alyson Eisch comes to us from the Geneva Joint 4 School District and will officially join our school community in July.
If you want the official details on her background and hire, the district’s press release can be found here. But don’t stop at that professional stuff. In addition to being a passionate, dedicated educator, Alyson is a real human being. She’s got four kids and a dog. She’s learning to golf, fish, brew beer, and ride a motorcycle (a classic Wisconsin quartet). And she’s getting married this summer.
(Hold on a second while I catch my breath on Alyson’s behalf.)
Alyson generously agreed to let me ask her slightly less erudite questions than a future superintendent might typically get. We met up on zoom, and it was one of the most genuine, delightful conversations I’ve had in a long time. Here are some highlights:
Our elementary school has a rollerskating unit in PE every year. How do you do on roller skates? Can you keep up?
It’s been a really long time. I did “okay” on ice skates. I know that I’ll get out there and look stupid. My 14-year old, I was trying to explain to him the difference between what I do now [as a principal] and what I’m about to do [as a superintendent]… He looks at me and goes, “so you’re gonna be that person now, that like comes to our classroom door and waves and nobody knows who they are?” And I was like, I WILL NOT be that person.
How are you going to not be that person?
I’m gonna be around! I love that the schools are so close and that I’m in one. That’s exciting.
You’ll roller skate with the kids at Parkway?
How old are your own kids?
I have a 20 year old, 17 year old, 14 yo, and an 11 yo.
Do you have pets?
I do, just one dog right now. Cadence – we rescued her. She is an Australian Kelpie mix from a litter in Texas. She was one of a “song litter,” there was Cadence, Harmony and Lyric.
We usually have a 5K in the fall, and I think it’ll happen this year. Can you run a 5K?
YES. That gives me some ambition to get my butt back into running. I have run 3 marathons, a gazillion half marathons, and a gazillion 5Ks, but this last year I’ve gained the COVID 20 and run a lot less.
We love doing things outdoors. We did a trek trip last July at Glacier National Park. We rode our bikes up to Logan Pass. It was insane, I thought I was going to die. At first it was great, but after a while it was like, I don’t think my legs are going to work. I was two miles from the top, and we had to finish by a certain time. And the woman [in the support car] goes, “Do you wanna hop in the van?” And I said, “I will crawl before I get in that van, I am not going to quit 2 miles from the top. I had tears, and I said, are they gonna close the road, do I have time? I finally got up there, and my fiancee Jeff was up there with a random group of senior citizens and they all just started clapping.
Do you have a hero?
My mom. She’s the kindest person in the world. She has a huge amount of empathy and kindness for everyone. She’s the person who will talk to random people in the grocery store. It embarrassed me as a kid and now I just see it as this amazing quality. She’s just kind.
Who was your favorite teacher in elementary school?
Mrs. Lenart. I had her for 1st and 4th grade, and when I went back to student teach, I got to student teach with her. It’s all about relationships. She made me feel special, I felt like I could do anything.
Do you have a favorite band or music star?
I was a grunge kid in high school. I love 90’s grunge. Pearl Jam, Nirvana. U2, Dave Matthews Band. Right now I’m liking country music, but I don’t like the twangy weird stuff. I’m proud to say I like pretty much any genre of music.
Is there anything that particularly scares you about our school district?
[much laughter, interrupted by the interviewer’s teenage daughter asking, “Is that really a question?”]
Nooo… I’ve met Karin, so that’s always a scary thing [more laughter], but I can tell she’s fabulous already.
[Karin Jamel is a long-term champion of our school district and a deep well of information and wisdom about it. She was a founding trustee of the foundation and serves as the superintendent’s assistant. She really is fabulous, and she is definitely not scary.]
Is there anything really important you want your future families here to know about you?
I really just want people to try really hard to presume positive intent. If a decision is made, and it’s horrible for someone, that wasn’t the intent. The decision was made because I looked at kids and staff and the district and said, this is the best thing for everybody. So if I missed something, just come talk to me, come have a conversation with me. It doesn’t mean the decision will necessarily change, but it could give me some insight into how to do things a little differently, because my intent is always always always to do what’s best for kids and to make this a great place for people to feel good, every day.
I want to be approachable, I want people to come yell at me if they’re mad about something. I’d rather have them yell at me than have icky conversations someplace else where I can’t fix it because I don’t know about it.
What’s your best stupid joke?
What do you call a cow with no legs? Ground beef.
Why can’t you hear a pterodactyl go to the bathroom? The P is silent.
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Thanks for keeping it real, Alyson. We can’t wait to get to know you better and to join you in working to make Parkway and Glen Hills the best schools on earth for our kids.