EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Wendy Dzurick works on transforming the decor from her old office to her new office Tueseday at the Marinette School District Office.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard

Wendy Dzurick works on transforming the decor from her old office to her new office Tueseday at the Marinette School District Office.

1
2

MARINETTE — The June meeting of the Marinette School District Board of Education was the last for Superintendent Wendy Dzurick in her role as superintendent. Starting in July, she will take a former position of hers as Teaching and Learning Quality Assurance Director for a year and the current director of that department, Corry Lambie, will take over as superintendent. Dzurick will be in that role for a year before fully retiring.

Dzurick has been in the education field for 39 years. She had a very good friend who had older siblings with children, and she enjoyed playing with her friend’s nieces and nephews.

“One of her sisters said, ‘You should be a teacher. You love kids.’ At the time, I was an art major and not quite sure what to do with my career, so I decided to major in education and minor in art. So it began with someone seeing that in me,” Dzurick said.

She began as a first-grade teacher in the Holy Family Catholic schools in Marinette. “After three years at Holy Family, I had an opportunity to be a building lead person, because there were three Holy Family buildings at the time. So I was at the Lourdes building, and I got the taste of what it would be like to lead and guide people in the vision we were trying to accomplish,” she said.

Dzurick said one of her favorite stories from education was a time when a kid approached her one day who thought it wasn’t fair that Dzurick only had recess duty three times per week. “He said, ‘We’re going to talk to the principal because we don’t think it’s fair that you only get three recesses a week.’ I had recess duty three times a week, and they wanted me to have recess every day with them. What they didn’t realize is that the teachers didn’t want to be out there in the 40-below-zero windchill, so three was plenty for me,” she said. Dzurick said the students did talk to the principal, who explained to them that she had to share recess duty with the other teachers.

She moved over into the public school system as a first-grade teacher at Garfield Elementary School, and then shifted to teaching fourth grade along with being a library media specialist. “I transferred from the elementary to the middle school. They were building a new addition onto the middle school, and the library was a part of that addition, so I got to be involved with opening a new space,” she said.

According to Dzurick, her position as a library media specialist required two different certifications, which she was finishing up at the time of taking that position. “I realized that at that time, library was going more towards technology, and there was nobody else overseeing it. While I love to use technology, I really didn’t want to oversee it, so I decided to move into administration,” she said.

She then decided to get an administrative degree and was hired as the associate principal at Marinette Middle school. About five years after that, she said a position opened up in Menominee for a principal at Roosevelt Elementary School. As it turned out, Dzurick was the last principal at Roosevelt; the school closed the year after she became principal there. She came back to Marinette as middle school principal while she was working on her doctorate, and a position opened up near Milwaukee, so she moved there for a time as a middle school principal.

“My sister lives in Milwaukee with my only two nieces, so I moved down to be closer to them, and it was closer to Madison, where I was driving to get my doctorate,” she said.

She eventually moved into the Franklin, Wis. School District, where her nieces went to school, as a curriculum director. “It was nice to be able to do your work and attend their concerts and see them in action after hours,” she said.

After spending several years in the Franklin district, Dzurick got a call saying the curriculum director position back in Marinette opened up. She had been thinking that she’d like to retire back home in Marinette, so she interviewed for it and was hired.

“I was planning to retire out of that position. But when the superintendent announced he was retiring the year after I came, I had always planned, if I was ever going to consider superintendency, I would do it for the last three to five years of my career,” she said.

Dzurick said she had a vision for the continuous improvement work for the district, and was offered the position. She spent the last four years as the Marinette School district’s superintendent.

Dzurick said the previous superintendent began looking at creating a continuous improvement culture in the district, and said the board wanted her to carry that on. “What it really means is creating a system for all staff and students to continually develop,” she said.

The first step was to outline the vision and direction for the district, and then develop a strategic plan and measurement system for that plan. “We then aligned all goals back up to accomplish those outcomes for the district. It’s very complex work, and you need to create a system that allows you to scaffold the learning and development to get the outcomes you’re looking for,” she said.

Dzurick said the foundation for the district that she helped to build was tested by the COVID-19 outbreak. “We had to go back to the foundation and re-invent it. By having dedicated, hard-working staff, we were able to shift to at-home learning. Did we want to do it? No, we were devastated every day that we didn’t have our kids. The systems that the staff built with all of us were tested, and they worked. The students got what they needed. Did they get everything we wanted them to? Absolutely not; we need them here. We focus on teaching the whole child. You can only do so much over Zoom,” she said.

Another major factor in her last year as superintendent has been the Rightsizing project. “It was a really important piece of work. We need to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we want to make sure that our money is going towards programming and staffing, but we also knew that we needed to listen to the community,” she said.

Dzurick said the facilities study revealed a lot, but she said hearing what the community had to say was the most important part of the process. “We knew what was most efficient, but what would people respect as a decision? When the survey came back saying four buildings made more sense to them, the board honored that,” she said.

Justine Braatz, the principal at Marinette High School, grew up with Dzurick and said she had encouraged Dzurick to return to Marinette. “She’s an unbelievably great leader and breathed new life into the district. She really wants Marinette kids to get the best education possible,” she said.

“She’s really a person with a big heart and puts the kids and others first. I’m grateful to have her as a mentor and I look forward to one more year with her on board,” Lambie said.

John LaCourt, the president of the Marinette School Board, said, “I’m very sorry to see her retire. She’s very dedicated to the district and very good to work with. But we’ll be fine with Mr. Lambie; he’s also very dedicated to the district and it’ll be a smooth transition”

Maryanne Rich, the superintendent’s assistant, said, “It has been both my privilege and my pleasure to have worked with Wendy these last four years. Her pride in this community, passion for the work and endless energy are second to none.”

Dzurick said that she’s looking forward to having time to get back to some of her hobbies. “I like to golf, I like to vacation; my first priority in this job was to be visible and supporting all of the different activities that happen in the school district, so I’ll be able to get some time to do what I like to do personally,” she said.

She said her parents live in the community and recently celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary, and she said she likes to help them out when she is able to. Regardless of whether she is employed by the district or not, Dzurick said she would always be doing something to support the district.

“You can always use extra hands when you have a lot of students in the district,” she said.