The new school year typically is a time of new beginnings.
There are new classes, new teachers, new friends and new students.
It’s a similar story for the Wexford-Missaukee Career Tech Center/Intermediate School District in Cadillac where two-thirds of the CTC/ISD’s leadership is new for the upcoming school year including the Special Education Director and CTC principal.
New WMISD Director of Special Education Brenda Tarsa has been in her position since July 1. She took over the reins from John Bretschneider who worked at the WMISD for 23 years as the special education director.
Tarsa has 23 years of experience in the field of special education and began her career as a school psychologist. She then became a supervisor of special education with the West Shore Educational Service District.
Tarsa is married to her husband Aaron and together they have a 6-year-old son named Eli. Her hobbies and interests include reading, camping, downhill skiing, and spending time with family.
When the director of Special Education position became available at the ISD, Tarsa saw it as an opportunity to be able to make a difference on a broader scale to increase success for children and students with disabilities.
“It is important to provide quality special education programs and services to improve successful educational outcomes and prepare students for life beyond the school setting,‘ she said. “It is about building skills that ultimately will benefit the students as well as the community.‘
As for the CTC, Cadillac native Jason Traviss is took over the role of principal from Charlie Schwarz who worked at WMISD for 11 years and most recently filled the role as interim during the ISD’s transition as Dave Cox became the superintendent for both Wexford-Missaukee and Manistee.
Traviss came to the WMISD via Manistee Area Public School where he was employed the past 19 years. He started his career in education as a classroom English or psychology teacher and the past 14 years as an administrator including as an elementary principal, middle school principal and assistant high school principal.
Traviss had applied for the position as WMCTC principal three years ago but didn’t get it. He, however, was hopeful the position would open up once again. It did. He applied and this time he was hired.
He has been married for 13 years to his wife Shelley and they have two children, Emma and Noah. Emma is a college senior while Noah is entering the seventh grade this fall. He is a Cadillac native who graduated in 1988 from Cadillac High School.
Traviss likes to golf and deer hunt. He also likes to write lyrics to songs that he sings in a hobby band he performs in with friends. He also is passionate about education and is excited to start his tenure at the CTC knowing there will be a learning curve that comes with it.
“I think my experience over the years working with all sorts of different staff members and students will help but there is no substitute for being on the job,‘ he said. “I pride myself on being approachable and reflective so I think those two things will help me be successful. Most important is I’m committed to helping students and staff succeed. That is what I have been asked to do.‘
Anyone who knows Cox knows he is charismatic to begin but he is excited about the infusion of new blood into the WMCTC and WMISD.
While he is grateful for the people who filled those positions previously, having a different set of eyes looking at things could be exactly what both special education and the CTC need to move forward.
“It’s a chance to revisit things. Do you always do what you have always done because you have always done it? No,‘ he said. “Let’s look at ways of bringing new ideas and changing. It’s good to great philosophy. If you think you are great the decline has already begun, but perfection is not obtainable. In striving to reach (perfection) you can have excellence.‘
In addition to Tarsa and Traviss taking on their new positions, Tim Rigling will be the new Wexford-Missaukee Career Techincal Education director after previously serving as the CTC principal and the interim CTE director last year.