New R-III Superintendent Settles into Position

By Joe Varrone, Record Staff Writer
Posted 10/8/11

New Superintendent Dr. Thomas E. Muzzey has wasted no time in making an impact on the Warren County R-III School District. His hope is to bring stability and love of educating to the R-III district. …

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New R-III Superintendent Settles into Position


New Superintendent Dr. Thomas E. Muzzey has wasted no time in making an impact on the Warren County R-III School District. His hope is to bring stability and love of educating to the R-III district. "My No. 1 thing is improving student achievement," Muzzey said. "There's a lot of work to do. We've got a great staff and we want the kids to come to school and want to learn. (Assistant Superintendent) Dr. Gregg Klinginsmith and I are both sharing that vision of how to implement these changes. "This is about creating learning opportunities for the students," he added. "They don't have to memorize everything. We'll teach them how to find information and be able to solve problems." After officially beginning his new duties July 1, Muzzey has settled into his new position leading the district and is anticipating the first day of classes on Aug. 18. Muzzey's entire 20-year educational career was spent at the Hillsboro School District. Following a six-year stint as a middle school teacher, he spent six years as an administrator at Hillsboro Junior High. In 2004, Muzzey was promoted to assistant superintendent and then later was named the district's associate superintendent. "I'm pretty intense," he said. "I make sure I do things to the best of my ability. You have to be prepared and I want to do my homework on the district. I hate to fail because of a lack of effort and I think it will reflect (on the students). "I think it's rewarding to see children and adults become learners," he added. "There's a feeling of success when they master something. I absolutely love it and I get goosebumps about it." Muzzey said he wants to take an upfront and honest approach with parents and faculty, alike. "The thing is you have to make informed decisions," he said. "I would hope that they respect the expertise we have and know that we're going to do the best we can for the kids. "The facts are the facts and we'll present the truth," he added. The truth, he admits, may not always be pleasant. "For the kids coming into Daniel Boone Elementary, I'm concerned," Muzzey said. "We don't have a preschool, but we're looking at all options. We're looking at private preschools because the trend in our data shows that first- and second-graders are behind." And Muzzey said it is his and the faculty's job to bring out the most from their students. "We want to work to the students' potential and meet their potential," he said. "We want them to be excited about learning. If you're struggling, it's hard to get excited about learning." Muzzey said he's aware of criticism directed toward the district about not challenging its students. That, however, is something he's made a priority to change. "For the students in the top 10 to 20 percent (of their grade level), we're looking at putting something in place," he said. "We might set up a development committee that will challenge the high-achieving students. We always want to be getting the most out of every child." In addition to students reading at a young age, Muzzey believes technology will play a vital role in student success. A computer-based reading program called Fast Forward will be implemented to assist students who have difficulty reading. "This is about students learning and engaging themselves," he said. "It's unbelievable. The data overwhelmingly supports that reading at a young age is helpful. "One of the big things is going to be embracing the use of technology," he added. "We're setting up a Twitter account, as well." Muzzey said he felt there was too much technology-based downtime for students while in the classroom. "The minute they leave school, they're using technology," he said. "We have to move cautiously, but embrace the technology we have. We need to take our time, but be progressive because we want to incorporate the use of multimedia. If there's a way online to download certain learning material, we're all for that. "I think my background and my preparation helped," he said. "It's a nice fit. There's always somebody better and smarter, but it's about the right fit at the right time."