Mary Wegner, B.S., Ed.D., M.Ed.
- Ed.D. Pepperdine University
- M.Ed. University of Alaska Southeast
- B.S. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Being a teacher was the one thing I wanted to avoid, so my pathway to becoming a teacher and then staying in education is very circuitous. I come from a long line of teachers from both sides of my parents. For example, my paternal grandmother was a PE teacher in rural Iowa who also became the school principal. However, she, as well as my mother and aunts who were teachers all left the profession when they got married. I wanted to have a career and make a difference at all stages of my life so I refused to consider becoming a teacher. Lacking a female role model who stayed an educator throughout her career had an impact on me even though both of my aunts rejoined the profession after my nieces and nephews were in school. It wasn’t until my first semester freshman year that I took a class focused on students with exceptional needs where I realized that I had a passion for making sure that each person received a relevant and meaningful education and was treated with dignity and respect. I changed my major that first semester and graduated with honors four years later with a Comprehensive Special Education and Elementary Education Bachelors.
Along the way, I picked up graduate certificates in School Administration and the Superintendency. My willingness to move around Alaska, as well as accept opportunities to increase my impact within education led me to become a superintendent in SE Alaska. As a superintendent, I was recognized by President Obama for my leadership in educational technology at a district level, and I was able to lead a district working on realizing equity.
As a superintendent, on the first day of school, I went around to every classroom in the district and welcomed the students back to school. For most of the 100+ classes I visited, it was just a quick stop and wave and the door. My first year as superintendent, I was at the door of a 1st-grade classroom when the teacher welcomed me into the room and introduced me as the new superintendent for the school district. Then she asked me if I wanted to say anything to the students, so I asked them if they knew what a superintendent does. I got some very good 1st-grade responses, such as one student who thought it meant that I knew how to color and stay within the lines, and another student who thought it meant that I knew how to build things. My favorite answer was from Kyla who said that a superintendent must be a superhero! Not only did that make my day, but it also got me thinking about how this is true for all of us in education. Everyone who works in schools are superheroes to our students, and we perform unsung, superhero, heroic tasks for our students in support of learning every day. Enjoy your superhero status!