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Dr. Marc Winger, the new superintendent of the Newhall School District, has commented that he has some "mighty big shoes to fill." Those would be the shoes of Dr. J. Michael McGrath, who was the superintendent of the elementary school district for the last 25 years. But Dr. Winger's shoes have seen a lot of distance themselves.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Winger grew up in the San Fernando Valley. His father and a sister still live in the valley, while another sister resides in New York. He graduated from Monroe High School in 1968, then went to UC Berkeley for his bachelor's degree, UC Santa Barbara for his teaching credential and UCLA for his doctorate.
Peachland Elementary School was Dr. Winger's first assignment. He taught third grade for five years, then put in another five years at Newhall Elementary. Winger left our valley to become principal at Thomas Edison Elementary School in Burbank.
When the position of director of curriculum opened at the Sulphur Springs Union School District in Canyon Country, Winger jumped at the chance to work beside a former Peachland co-worker, Dr. Robert Nolet, who was now superintendent.
"Sulphur Springs is a model of how technology should be," Winger says. "It has a great school board, great administrators and a supportive community."
When offered the position of superintendent of the Newhall district, he welcomed the opportunity to come home.
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"I knew about the challenges coming in (to the Newhall School District)," Winger says. He has known some of the teachers in the district for 25 years. "I still feel that I could go out to dinner with them," he says.
Winger believes the biggest challenge will be growth and how to deal with it. "It's not necessarily new growth, although in Stevenson Ranch we'll see it," Winger says. "Older neighborhoods are starting to turn over and we are seeing young families move in."
Two new school sites are guaranteed in the Stevenson Ranch area, and Winger is pleased to have his consultant — Dr. McGrath — handling that area. Winger says his energy will go toward making a smooth transition to year-round multi-track schooling and is prepared to "deal with one family at a time" if that's what it takes to convince parents of the need for multi-track.
A bond issue still lurks in the background for the district, but Winger wants the school board and the community to be presented with a well-thought-out campaign.
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Winger knows he still has much to learn — I recently observed him with a huge set of keys and a cheat-sheet identifying which ones go where — but managing the school district doesn't take up all of his time. He and his wife, Eileen, are busy raising two boys, Seth (who will be entering third grade) and Evan (a year away from kindergarten).
Dr. Winger seems comfortable in his new shoes, and the community supports him. We look forward to Dr. Winger leading the school district into the 21st Century.
Read more from the SCV School Beat with Patti Rasmussen.