Carmel Clay Schools pick Hoosier to Take Helm
by Ann Craig-Cinnamon
When Carmel Clay Schools (CCS) went looking for a new superintendent to replace Jeff Swensson who announced he was leaving in December last year, it turned out to be a more difficult project than expected. After narrowing down the list of candidates and going through the usual vetting process, the committee decided to say no to all the finalists and start all over again.
Eight months later and after two rounds of looking for the leader who would take CCS into the future, the right person turned out to be Dr. Nicholas Wahl, a native Hoosier. Dr. Wahl had been involved in the search process as a paid consultant, and apparently the School Board was so impressed with him that they asked him to consider taking the position himself. He has been the superintendent of two different school districts in Illinois since 2002. Previously he served as an assistant superintendent, elementary school principal, middle school athletic director and middle school science teacher. His career in education all began as a teacher in Indiana. He is originally from Ferdinand in the southern part of the state, so this really is “back home again in Indiana” for the Wahl family.
“The opportunity to return home and to be a part of CCS is both an honor and a privilege,” says Dr. Wahl. “My family is looking forward to calling Carmel home, and I am looking forward to serving CCS as Superintendent of Schools.” He and his wife, Korie, are getting settled in, and their son and daughter currently attend college.
The new superintendent sees CCS as second to none, both academically and in extracurricular opportunities for students, and says there are lots of reasons why the school system has such a great reputation. “Where to begin…amazingly dedicated and talented staff, involved and supportive parents and a community that values education and its youth. Imbedded in the school community is the drive to continuously improve, no matter if you are a student, teacher, principal or the superintendent. There is also a sense of pride to be a part of the CCS community that is embraced by all stakeholders. The strong sense of community makes CCS feel like a small town while delivering world-class student programs,” he says.
Of course, there are challenges facing education in today’s world, and Dr. Wahl identifies the biggest one as funding. He says that continuing to offer the best possible student programs with the funding issues facing school districts is a real and immediate challenge. He has three main objectives as he begins his tenure:
• Establishing goals with the Board of Education so that we can create an energy and a work plan for moving forward in a collaborative manner to make the 2013-14 school year one to reflect on with a sense of accomplishment and promise.
• Resolution to contract negotiations and ensuring that our teachers have the resources, connections and support needed to successfully educate all the children in our schools.
• Begin relationship building with all stakeholder groups. This will involve active listening on his part and getting to know the great people of Carmel.
It’s relationship building that made Dr. Wahl a top candidate for the post, according to CCS School Board of Trustees President Layla Spanenberg. “Dr. Wahl has a proven history of leadership with a focus on building consensus. We are delighted he is joining our CCS family. His collaborative leadership style will benefit the entire community.”
Dr. Wahl wants to hear from you, and he wants you to know that he plans to continue to be a part of the tradition of excellence of CCS. He adds, “I look forward to making student-centered decisions with the people of CCS for the betterment of our student body and the entire community.”