New Superintendent prepares for future

courtesy Laurie Burgos

courtesy Laurie Burgos

On April 11, the School Board finalized the appointment of Laurie Burgos to the position of superintendent. Burgos will start her work with the district in July.

After attending high school in Racine, Burgos went on to receive her bachelor’s degree at UW-Madison. She later decided to continue her Spanish education in Spain. 

“I graduated from Racine Horlick High School in 1991 and then went on to UW-Madison where I received a bachelor of arts in Spanish,” Burgos said. “After that, I moved to Spain and I spent quite a few years in Spain and took some classes there.”

While in Spain, Burgos began her career teaching English to students at an international school. Soon, she decided to come back to the United States in order to support her young family.

“Upon return, I got my master’s degree from Cardinal Stritch University,” Burgos said. “I am currently finishing up my doctoral degree at UW-Madison and will be defending my dissertation this summer.”

In addition to continuing her education once back in the United States, Burgos began working in bilingual education for the Racine Unified School District, which quickly turned to a passion. 

“[When I moved back], bilingual programs were just starting up. I started working as a dual language teacher and a second-grade teacher in the Racine Unified School District,” Burgos said.

Equity is something that is near and dear to my heart, both personally and professionally…

Burgos’ work in bilingual education was what eventually led her to an administrative position in the Verona School District. Burgos was promoted to assistant superintendent just as the Covid pandemic started, putting her into a unique and challenging position.

“I went from having a more specialized role into overseeing all of the curriculum instruction and assessment,” Burgos said. “Then, we had to redesign education right through the pandemic, so it was kind of a stressful time, but an exciting time to be doing that work.”

After her time in Verona, Burgos took the position of superintendent in the Evansville Community School District. Next, on July 1, Burgos will begin her work as superintendent in Shorewood. 

“I’m attracted to the Shorewood School District because I share the district’s core values, the values of equity, growth, and excellence for all. They’re very similar to how I would define my personal and professional goals,” Burgos said. “I’m committed to a standard of excellence for myself and my own work. That’s really been important to me.”

Along with a commitment to excellence, Burgos highlights equity as an issue that she and the district see eye to eye on.

“Equity is something that is near and dear to my heart both personally and professionally, for a lot of different reasons,” Burgos said. “I would say on a personal level, when I came back from Spain, I realized as I started working as a bilingual teacher that school isn’t designed equally for everybody.”

Burgos emphasized how comparing her own life experiences to those of her bilingual students led to a new perspective on equity. 

“We had students coming into our schools who were already bilingual, who came from multicultural households, and that was seen through a deficient lens, so it just seemed like a double standard,” Burgos said.

This realization proved to be an important turning point for Burgos. 

“It really had been invisible to me until that point,” Burgos said. “Having that awakening and realizing that schools don’t welcome all kids in the same way really lit a fire in me to want to do better for every student, not just bilingual students, so we can find a way for kids to be their best selves and find ways to meet their needs.”

My first duties are just getting to know people…and starting to build relationships.

For Burgos, Shorewood stood out because of the community’s engagement and genuine concern for these issues.

“When I came to visit Shorewood for my interview, I really felt [an alignment with my values] among the people that I met: the school board members, the community members, the parents that sat in on interviews, the teachers that I met as I visited schools,” Burgos said. “It’s really easy to say you’re all about equity, growth, and excellence for all, but it’s another thing to really mean it and be committed to the work, especially when it gets hard, [and I see that commitment in Shorewood].”

Another project Burgos will be involved in is finalizing the budget now that the referendum has been approved.

“I talked with Dr. Sternke about [the budget], just to see [the decision making status] before July,” Burgos said. “They had planned for making some budget reductions depending on whether or not the referendum would pass…and now that they had a positive result, what staffing implications might be…and what positions might we need to continue to address because of declining enrollment.”

Burgos says that along with keeping up to date on budgetary matters, she will be connecting with the community.

“My first duties are just getting to know people…getting a better feel for the work that’s been taking place, and starting to build relationships…not just with staff but also with students, with community members, and with the teachers,” Burgos said. “A lot of it is getting through the transitions, allowing myself to be new and really just focusing on building relationships because that’s really important to me.”