New Director Survives, and Thrives

Mike Schroeder has just completed a crash course in SA Directorship – and survived.

After nearly a year of planning and excited anticipation, his first Summer Academy is over, and Schroeder has a new appreciation for all aspects of the program.

But, mostly, he’s impressed – impressed with SA teachers, staff, families, and, especially, the students. “It’s incredible to see it all come together,” he said.

Michael Schroeder was hired to take over as Summer Academy Executive Director last year after former Director Jon Klippenes took a principal job in Annandale. Schroeder and his wife, Amanda, have two young daughters, Cecilia, 3, and Kennedy, who is just six months.

He’s excited to continue the great work of the Academy. “I have a passion for working with these students,” he said.

Schroeder has his school administrator’s license and a master’s degree in educational leadership. Eleven of his 12 years in education have been as a K-6 physical education teacher in the Roseville School District. In addition, he works in several leadership positions, such as gifted and talented lead and summer school site supervisor. In fact, it was during his district’s summer program that he first learned about Summer Academy.

“I heard about the program as a summer school site supervisor. We lost a teacher to Summer Academy, then another,” he said. He started to wonder what kind of program was drawing these great teachers away.

You wish you could replicate what happens here in a regular school year.

He has particular praise for the dedicated teachers who return year after year to provide exceptional learning experiences for students. “Staff is truly excited to work with the students we have here,” he said.

“How often do you hear teachers say they’re looking forward to working in the summer?” he laughed. “This is the time of year they get to really dive into their passions. It’s rejuvenating.”

The students are equally passionate. “You see the kids learning. It’s different types of learning and it’s all hands-on,” he said. “You wish you could replicate what happens here in a regular school year.”

Schroeder is similarly impressed with the tireless Program Assistants, or “runners”, who manage much of the behind-the-scenes work of SA. These young adults deliver messages, pick up supplies, escort students, clean classrooms. Schroeder calls them the “lifeblood of the program.”

“The Program Assistants are unbelievable,” Schroeder said. “They’re here because they loved it as a student or came as a TA. They do whatever it takes. We haven’t had a gripe once. They’re such hard workers and they’re brilliant.”

Schroeder has already left positive marks on the program. He expanded the first-grade projects sections and added two new courses this summer.

His vision is to “continue to grow the great things we do.” But he acknowledges there are important improvements to be made. “One of my focuses,” he said, “is how can we expand on the classes that are most desired?” Some courses have nearly 100 students signing up for 22 spots.

He is also committed to increasing access to the Academy and improving the registration process. SA filled up on the first day of registration last March. “We need to find ways to serve more students and students we may be missing,” he realized. “We need to find a more equitable process to get more kids engaged and involved.”

Later this summer, Schroeder will begin to revamp the registration process. “It’s important to listen to the needs of parents,” he said.

One pleasant surprise for Schroeder was the massive turnout during Wednesday’s Open House. “I was surprised by the incredible amount of support from family and friends,” Schroeder said. “The students and families have incredible excitement for Summer Academy. We want to continue to challenge them and do our best to meet their needs.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *