Tammy Thompson Kapp still has more than two months of the school year to finish at Lapham Elementary School in Madison.
But the seventh-year principal has plenty of “anticipation” building for where she’ll be next year: Stoner Prairie Elementary School.
The Verona Area school board approved a contract for Thompson Kapp Monday night for the 2018-19 school year. She will succeed Mike Pisani, who is expected to transition to a role in the VASD central office next year.
The former fifth- and sixth-grade teacher said it will be hard “leaving my Lapham family,” but she expressed excitement at moving from a large district in Madison to a smaller setting here. She was also attracted to the school, where she knows some teachers, for its focus on equity and social-emotional learning – both district-wide initiatives.
“I did a little bit of asking about where they were at, and a lot of the work that they’re starting to push into is areas of passion for me,” Thompson Kapp told the Press Monday. “Particularly, equity work is something that has been really important to me, looking at ways that we’re closing opportunity gaps for children, making sure that kids not only have access to high-quality teaching and learning but that they’re meaningfully engaging and participating.”
At Lapham, which serves students in kindergarten through second grade, she said she has seen the impact social-emotional lessons can have on keeping children in the classroom when they find learning challenging. She stressed the importance of “common learning experiences” for children who come from different backgrounds, something that is also prevalent at Stoner Prairie.
As with Stoner Prairie, her current school has a tablet device for each student the past two years. She said that has helped connect children to their learning and has offered the opportunity for them to access information they otherwise could not.
One of her first priorities, she said, will be to connect with Stoner Prairie staff members, as she’s learned over the six years “how valuable relationships and trust are.”
“Stoner Prairie is not Lapham,” she said. “I’m going to have to really listen to learn what is the best first step to take. I’m gonna really be relying on those that have been there living it to inform that.”
Thompson Kapp taught fifth- and sixth-grade in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District for 13 years before taking a central office position there for three years. When her husband moved to Madison for work, she became a national consultant at the high school level for three years before taking a job on the Madison Metropolitan School District’s professional development team. Two years later, she took over at Lapham.
There, she has worked with a “partner school,” Marquette Elementary, that Lapham’s students go to for third- through fifth-grade. While she said she’s had a good experience with the partner school, she’s excited to see students and families for their whole elementary school careers.
“I’m really excited to have the K-5 continuity,” she said. “That is really appealing to me, to really be able to see the fruits of our labor as kids grow and develop and begin to apply the skills that they’re learning in the earlier grades.”