Krueger ready to captain West De Pere
By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – When he’s not at his day job, new West De Pere School District Superintendent Dennis Krueger might be found underwater.
He’s a maritime buff who’s fascinated by shipwrecks.
Krueger loves learning about sunken ships, as well as investigating them up close, via scuba diving or snorkeling.
With the hundreds of wrecked historical vessels in Wisconsin’s waters and more in Lake Michigan, there’s enough to keep him busy for a while.
The Door Peninsula is among his favorite places to scope hidden wrecks.
He also loves kayaking, bicycling and hanging out at his family’s cottage, most of which he built.
Krueger is also an avid woodworker and furniture builder.
He’s into photography and even photographed weddings back in the days of 35mm film.
One might say Krueger seems like a well-rounded person.
When it comes to building well-rounded students and a healthy school district, he believes in getting everyone into the same boat, so to speak.
“I think the school district, the business community, local government and faith-based groups are better when we work together and collaborate,” Krueger said.
So he’s happy the school district recently joined the De Pere Area Chamber of Commerce.
“While we can be strong alone, even if we just know each other, that’s a good start,” he said. “The community works better. It’s when we don’t know each other that we make assumptions and problems arise.”
Krueger took office July 1, replacing John Zegers, who retired after 44 years in education.
Krueger has spent his entire career in education, with the exception of a stint servicing vehicles in a garage as a young adult.
His first job after receiving his master of science degree in educational leadership from UW-Milwaukee was teaching math and social studies at Wisconsin Institute for Torah Study, a private all-boys Jewish boarding school in Milwaukee.
After a few months there, he added administrative assistantship to his duties, and after a year, he left to teach social studies at Marinette Catholic Central High School.
Over the next three decades, he would serve in school districts in Neenah, Shiocton, Howard-Suamico and New London, in capacities such as such as principal, dean of students, administrator and superintendent of schools.
Krueger has four children, including three who are grown and the youngest of whom is in high school.
He said teaching kids and raising his own kids have helped him see his role differently.
“Being a teacher and a parent has given me a perspective beyond anything you can read about or learn in any other way,” he said.
That background helps when dealing with families of students who are having personal struggles.
“You can understand issues when you’ve lived through them yourself; it shapes your context and outlook on things,” Krueger said. “It adds a dimension of thoughtfulness when you’re working with a family that’s going through some things. I’ve gone through it – I’ve gone through kids being kids, kids making not-so-good choices. It helps when you put it (another family’s situation) in the context of working with your own children. They can relate to you and you show and share empathy.”
Krueger said his district plans to continue to embrace and partner with the community.
“We want each student at the end of the day to have had multiple experiences with unique pathways so they know what brings joy to their heart and they can continue to be happy and healthy members of the community,” he said. “Whether that means going on to post-secondary education, entering the workforce, or joining the military.”