Matt Beisser, principal/administrator, St. Dennis School

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Matt Beisser, principal/administrator, St. Dennis School.

Matt Beisser, principal/administrator, St. Dennis School

1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is having an opportunity to work with children. To be able to mold the future doctors, CEOs, and leaders of our country is a true joy. Looking at all the successful people in the world of business, etc., they all started with a great educational foundation. I get to be part of that. Too many people have to go to a job each and every day and feel like they make no difference. I get to go to a job that I love and make a real investment in our future. As a school principal each and every day presents a new challenge and adventure. The biggest challenge is likely continuously changing with the times, especially now that there are millennial parents with their own views and expectations for education.

2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

I truly admire Jack Salzwedel, chairman and CEO of American Family Insurance. No matter Jack’s prestige, he stays grounded and treats everyone with respect. He has become a great friend from whom I have learned so much about humility. He is someone who no matter how much you have, you must use it to make a difference or it is worth nothing. No matter how busy he is he will be there to help at the drop of a hat if he is needed. He recently attended an appreciation dinner with me and told me how impressed he was with my school. What made the biggest effect on me was when he said, “On the drive over tonight I couldn’t help but feel excitement, like I was coming home to family.”

3. What has been the high point of your career so far?

As a principal, each and every day has its highs and lows, with gratification in the simple but amazing achievements of young children. My personal high has been the ability to help students who normally would not attend a private school due to needs. When many have asked why I would even try to have those needs in my school, I simply responded with, “This is why I choose this profession and each and every student, no matter their need, deserves my very best.” Of course, some have succeeded while others have not, but all get my very best!

4. Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

The best advice I could give would be to own it. This is not a profession that you do for the money so make it your own, be creative, take chances, and give every child your very best. Also remember that although you are there to teach, you are also there to learn each and every day.

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5. What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

Madison is a great place to live! I grew up on the north side of Milwaukee while my wife grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. Madison offers such diversity, beauty, and culture. Madison continues to be a place of optimism and opportunity. My wife is the current board president of Centro Hispano and I have gotten the great opportunity to attend many events with her. I cannot help but be excited about the optimism and the future of Madison.

6. Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I am pretty much an open book, as my job and my life are pretty much the same thing. Many are surprised to find out that I was the class president in high school. I have a huge background in soccer and it is a deep love, but people are also surprised to find out that I played football in college instead of soccer. I am also fluent in Spanish (not so fluent, if you ask my wife).

7. What are your guilty pleasures?

One of my favorite things to do is travel with my family. Given that my wife is from Venezuela, I have traveled there seven times. I love to try new restaurants with my wife. She has a food blog and I love to be her test subject, as well as attend amazing local restaurants that use locally grown ingredients.

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