“I am thrilled to be here and I’m excited to be part of an outstanding community that is not only passionate about learning, but passionate about kids learning,” says Dr. Matthew Widenhoefer, who began serving as superintendent of MSD of Steuben County in mid-October. “I’ve been an elementary school, middle school and high school principal, so I think those three positions prepared me really well for this job.”
As superintendent, Dr. Widenhoefer oversees two high schools: Angola High School and an alternative high school called the Educational Opportunity Center, or EOC; one middle school and four elementary schools.
Dr. Widenhoefer grew up in the New Haven area and attended New Haven High School. With three children, his family now resides on the northwest side of Fort Wayne. His most recent job before becoming the superintendent of MSD of Steuben County was principal of Heritage Jr/Sr High School in Monroeville.
“This is definitely different from being a principal where you’re centered on your building. As a superintendent, you’re the face of the district. I’ve been getting out and introducing myself to the public and meeting folks. I’ve spent a lot of time at the Chamber of Commerce meeting local business leaders. My vision involves asking our local community, ‘How can our schools work with you? How can we form a partnership with you?’ Maybe that means giving our middle school and high school students the opportunity to job shadow at local businesses. I’m a big believer in the philosophy of, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’”
While Dr. Widenhoefer is very optimistic about the future, he acknowledges now is a challenging time to be in the education sector for reasons ranging from the nationwide supply chain issue to parents becoming increasingly concerned about the content their children are exposed to in the classroom.
“Like schools all over the country, we are dealing with labor shortages and having trouble getting some supplies, particularly lunchroom supplies. We’re also in the middle of some building projects that involve replacing roofs. Additionally, we’re talking about putting in a turf football field. When it comes to addressing parental concerns, we want to be those open-door places where parents are free to come in and talk with us and we can partner with them to help their children. Those are the conversations I love to have and that we need to have. Part of transparency is having the superintendent and the building administrators open to any and all conversations.”
He says the pandemic still plays a role in daily decision-making. Working with local health officials and community leaders, Dr. Widenhoefer says the district’s re-entry plans remain fluid based on the data.
“We’ve had a great collaboration effort up here between our parents and the community, and our local personnel in the health field are really good about keeping everybody in the loop. It’s been nice to see full gyms again, to be able to go to a Christmas concert, and to be out and about together. I think the kids, parents and our community really needed it.”
The latest count shows 2,521 students in the district. Dr. Widenhoefer says every single child deserves the best efforts of him, his colleagues, the parents and the community.
“Because of our strong parental and community support, we have so much to offer our students. Our high school students have opportunities today that most adults did not have at that age. Internships, for example, allow young people who think they have an interest in a particular profession to try it out, experience it and make sure they like it before spending two to four years of college tuition only to realize it’s not what they want in a career. We’re reaching out to our kids to prepare them for an ever-changing workforce. We’re giving them the skills they need to be good and successful citizens. We can’t do this alone. Partnering with our parents and our community is how we turn our vision into a reality.”
Address: 400 S Martha Street, Angola, Indiana 46703