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New principal expected to 'hit the ground running'

Towers comes to West HS after stint in Germantown

David Towers is the new principal at Waukesha West High School. He replaces Melissa Thompson.

David Towers is the new principal at Waukesha West High School. He replaces Melissa Thompson. Photo By Scott Ash

Aug. 16, 2011

The summer highlights for David Towers just keep on coming.

"It's definitely been a very exciting summer for me," Towers said. "These last couple months have been quite an experience."

It's been a time of change and a time of new opportunities for Towers - ones that have certainly been rewarding for the 36-year-old Waupun native.

The summer could not have gotten off to a better start when Towers' wife gave birth to their second child, Laine, in June. And in the midst of getting used to changing diapers again and watching over another life, Towers made the time to apply for the vacated principal's position at Waukesha West High School. He said the opportunity and the timing to make a career move made sense.

"I was very selective in applying for positions," said Towers, who comes to West after five years as Germantown High School's assistant and associate principal. "But this is something I felt would be a good fit."

The administrators within the Waukesha School District felt the same way, as he was officially named West's new principal at a School Board meeting on Aug. 10.

"We had a number of solid candidates," Superintendent Todd Gray said, "but David stood out. He's an excellent fit, had great experience and has a strong knowledge on the educational initiatives that the district and Waukesha West is trying to achieve. I think he'll hit the ground running."

Towers replaces Melissa Thompson, who stepped down at the end of the school year to become the superintendent of the Swallow School District in Merton.

Learning curve

With the new school year just two weeks away, Towers has little time to learn everything at West. That's OK with him, because he's not one to say that he knows it all. He said he will simply spend the next few weeks learning about the school while trying to carve a niche in a new environment.

"I want to be a resource and want students and parents to know that they can come to me," Towers said. "I might not have all the answers, but I'll help them. I'm there to help and guide them as a leader.

"I'm not coming into this trying to make changes for the sake of change. I'm going to learn the culture. I'm new here and I want to learn and listen to people."

One person he has been listening to is Thompson, who Towers said has provided a lot of advice since he was hired.

"She's been extremely helpful with this transition," Towers said. "We've sat down for a couple of hours and talked. Everybody's been extremely supportive so we can pick up where she left off."

Teams excel

Towers comes to West with the school thriving on many levels.

In academics, West is among the best in the state and country as evident by Newsweek's annual list of top high schools in the nation, which has them 491 in the standings. Their academic decathlon team has also made a name for itself winning 10 straight state titles. Waukesha West is the only school outside of California and Texas to win a national decathlon championship.

The school's marching band team has finished either first or second at the Wisconsin State Music Association Marching Band competition the last 15 years. Moreover, many of the school's sports - most notably football, baseball and girls soccer - have also been very successful on the state level recently.

Towers said these factors were a prime reason that West was so alluring to him.

"I had great relationships with everyone at Germantown, but this is just an opportunity that I felt I was ready for at this time," Towers said. "I was immediately interested in applying based upon the strong reputation of the school and district. And what attracted me to West are the high academics and the participation in co-curriculars. That brings a pulse to the school."

Getting to know you

Towers said he's spent the first week on the job meeting many of the school's coaches and athletic teams. After all, sports are a big part of his life, as he played football at UW-Whitewater and served as an offensive line coach at Concordia University during the early part of his career when he taught at a middle school in Menomonee Falls. But Towers said he won't play favorites with just athletics.

"I plan on getting to as many events as possible and not just sports," Towers said. "Band is just as important as football and so is the academic decathlon team. I think it's important to show support for everyone."

And so far, the vibe he has received has been positive.

"Everybody's been very nice," said Towers, who will host a Meet and Greet from 5:30 - 7 p.m. Aug. 24 in the school's library. "The time I've spent with the administration team is very supportive and I've bonded with them. I feel very comfortable with them. I haven't had a negative experience."

His experiences at Germantown were also filled with great moments and people.

"In any situation, you'll always miss the people involved, whether it is the students, the staff or the parents," he said. "That's what I'll miss. I'm one to develop relationships and friendships on a personal level. I got lots of emails from their staff. That was bittersweet.

"That being said, I'm excited for this opportunity. That excitement level of getting to know new people is there."

Family of educators

Education has always been important to Towers and his family.

Towers, the youngest of six children, comes from a family of educators, as his sister is an elementary school principal and his brother is a high school physical education teacher. His father-in-law is a longtime educator from the West Bend School District and is now the assistant athletic director at Concordia.

While he has served in some capacity in a school for the last 13 years, this is the first time Towers will serve as the head principal. His philosophies won't change.

"I've kind of been getting teased by people, saying 'Hey boss,' " Towers said. "We joke about that, but I'm really just part of a team. It is my title, but I just want to help students. When I moved into administration, I wanted to positively help students in a larger role with the help of my teammates while looking at the big picture. I'm helping on a larger scale and in that way it's kind of neat."

The Towers File

Age: 36

Family: Wife, Tara, daughters, Bennet (2 years old) and Laine (8 weeks)

Education: Masters in Education Leadership: Cardinal Stritch University (2002)

Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Middle School Education: UW-Whitewater (1997)

Experience: Assistant Principal, Interim Associate Principal, Associate Principal: Germantown High School (July 2006-July 2011), Social Studies Instructor, North Junior H.S., Menomonee Falls (Aug. 2001-June 2005), Sixth Grade Instructor, Lodi Middle School, Lodi (August 1998 - June 2001)

Hobbies: Working out, running, lifting weights, going to sporting events, concerts, spending time with family

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