On The Record With ... Mike Moan
Mike Moan has climbed the educational ladder to a perch as District 200’s top administrator.
Huntley District 158’s current chief academic officer will move back to familiar ground when he takes over for Ellyn Wrzeski as District 200’s superintendent at the end of June. Moan graduated from Woodstock High School in 1991.
He started 17 years ago as a social studies teacher and coach in District 158, and after a year outside the district in his first administrative role, he returned as a Huntley High School administrator. He later moved to Marlowe Middle School.
As his District 158 tenure winds down, Moan sat down with reporter Shawn Shinneman in the Algonquin district offices to discuss when he decided to seek an administrative career and how he rates progress during a transitional period to the Common Core State Standards.
Shinneman: When did you start to see school administration in your future? Was that always a goal for you?
Moan: I’ve been lucky, I’ve loved every job I’ve had. ... You start thinking and then start talking to people and think, well, maybe I should look at going into administration.
Once I left Marlowe and came here, I started my doctoral program to get my superintendent’s endorsement. That’s when I made the decision that someday, under the right situation, I’d like to be a superintendent. And then with Ellyn retiring, the opportunity in Woodstock opened up, and that’s truly the only job I’ve applied for.
Shinneman: Have you had a chance to think about specific goals for District 200 or things you want to accomplish there?
Moan: Ellyn has been great with transition. The board there is great and the administrators and teachers have met and just been outstanding.
Coming in that first year is just going to be getting used to everybody, getting to know people in the community again.
Obviously, there are a number of programs they have there that are outstanding. And there are things we’ve done here that have worked for a while. But I want to wait to work with all the stakeholders there to come up with some real definite goals of things we want to do.
Shinneman: Sure. It seems like right now there are a lot of different ways you can kind of measure progress, especially during this transition to Common Core. Which ones do you look at? What’s important to you as far as gauging how your district is moving?
Moan: I think student growth. We view that here in a variety of ways.
The problem with using any kind of static state tests is it doesn’t take into account where kids are coming from or where they’re going. You can have a kid succeed on an ISAT test, but he might have been succeeding when he got in the classroom. We don’t know exactly what happened that year.
But when we start using growth metrics, we can see: Did we take our high kids high enough? Did we bring our low students up higher? A student might not make standards, but if he’s made over a year’s growth in that year, then we know we were successful in that year with him.
Shinneman: And that involves testing at the beginning of the year and sort of getting the baseline of where they’re coming from?
Moan: Yes. Yes.
Shinneman: Congressman (Randy) Hultgren has come out and said that he wants the state to take a step back from Common Core. What do you think of that, and what do you think of the idea of state-wide or country-wide standards for education?
Moan: It’s a complex issue. The state of Illinois has always had standards. ... People complained about the Illinois standards before, too. You’re going to be hard-pressed to find standards that come across the board and make everyone happy.
I’m definitely in favor of doing a rigorous curriculum for our students. Is a one-size fits all, national curriculum going to do that? That remains to be seen. There’s a lot of politics there, and as an educator I really just focus on, here’s what the state’s now telling us to do. How do we best meet the needs of our students to get the growth we want?
I’m definitely in favor of a rigorous opportunity for our students. And when you heard people talk about the Common Core originally, that was kind of the goal. Obviously, now it’s kind of a political football and that’s a tough situation. But I’m definitely in favor of offering a rigorous curriculum for our students, and working with the state is the easiest way to do that.
The Mike Moan lowdown
Who is he? Mike Moan is the incoming superintendent of Woodstock District 200.
Family: Wife, Paula; son, Zach, 17; daughter, Maddie, 10
Favorite book: “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Favorite movie: “Hoosiers”