New EACS superintendent a Woodburn native and former teacher, administrator

August 14th, 2017

By Rod King | The News-Sentinel

Veteran East Allen County Schools teacher and administrator Marilyn Hissong became the third woman to hold the superintendent position in the corporation when she assumed the job this month.

Hissong is a proponent of promoting from within and believes that having grown up in the system, knowing its people and being familiar with how things work has been a positive asset for her.

“It’s actually a dream come true and one that I’m still trying to get my head around," she said. "Though it’s something I had hoped for, I never thought that a hometown girl (as a Woodburn native and Woodlan High School graduate) could rise through the ranks and actually become superintendent. Everyone always told me that to become a superintendent, I’d have to go elsewhere. It’s very humbling and I’m honored to serve."

She's served the last four years as assistant superintendent for former superintendent Kenneth Folks’ administration. That transition has made the transition go smoothly, she said. Folks is now chief of governmental affairs for the Indiana Department of Education.

"Though he was the point person where the school board was concerned, I attended board meetings and made presentations to them during that period and am comfortable working with them," she said. "I know that they care about our students and want them to be successful. We have great people in EACS and everyone has been very supportive during my first week in the job.”

At the top of her list of things to accomplish is to take a pro-active position toward building strong relationships with the students, staff, school board, parents, community and businesses so people can feel free to come, talk and present ideas. “Working as a team is the biggest key to establishing the integrity of our school system and cementing who we are.”

She said the board has set three major goals. The first is the Elementary Alternative Education Program geared to second through sixth graders at Prince Chapman Academy. Since all students learn differently, it is set up to use non-standard activities and methods to gain student engagement. The program, which was piloted last year, will be for chosen students based on their learning needs and behavior.

Also a pilot program this year at Leo Junior/Senior High School is the “school within a school” concept that involves two principals. One heads up grades 7 and 8 and the other, 9 through 12. “This will enable the junior high principal to give closer attention to bolstering his/her student’s learning in preparation for high school,” Hissong said. If the program goes as we hope, it will eventually be installed at New Haven, Woodlan and Heritage high schools as well.

“Third is one that will take several years to fully develop. It’s a vocational program that will provide a variety of opportunities for students wishing to gain professional skills in auto mechanics, plumbing, dry walling and many more careers. Preliminary location for the program is the New Haven Intermediate School building in Meadowbrook.”

Hissong pointed out that one thing that will be taking up a lot of time and energy this year will be the many building projects going on across the district.

“Looking ahead, if there’s money in the budget, we’re considering the possibility of replacing our grass football fields with artificial turf. It requires less maintenance and can be used during and after a rainstorm without damage to the field. It makes the field more usable,” she added.

“We’re looking into ways to make learning more fun with new methods of teaching and through the use of technology. It ultimately comes down to the one thing that makes learning exciting for students and that’s the teachers and staff. I still remember my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Johnson, who took an interest in me and helped me get interested in learning.”

The new superintendent began her teaching career in 1992 at Village Elementary and was named principal at Monroeville in 1998. She also served as principal at Highland Terrace and Hoagland elementary schools and New Haven Middle School before being named director of curriculum. In 2013 Hissong became assistant superintendent of elementary education. She was assistant superintendent of elementary education from 2015 to the present.

After high school, Hissong earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Ball State University, a master’s degree in education (administrator’s license) at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne and her education specialist degree (superintendent’s license) at Ball State University.

Hissong and her husband, Todd, have two children. Jordan graduated from Leo High School in 2015 and is a junior at Tiffin University in Tiffin, Ohio. Makayla, also a Leo graduate, is a freshman at the University of Saint Francis.