Hibner Looks Back on Time at MCPASD

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By: 
Michelle Phillips

MIDDLETON–In the 10 years since Perry Hibner began his position at Middleton Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD), he has become much more than just a communication director. Hibner has been a coach, volunteer and visible part of the Middleton community, but in June he will retire from the position, leaving big shoes to fill. 

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said of his post retirement plans. “We plan on staying in Middleton.”

His wife, Sheila, who retired from Monona Grove in 2015 is a Middleton native, the couple has three children in the area, so his roots run deep in the community. He added that though he’s retiring he may take another job, but after a decade in a high pressure position, he is ready for a change.

When Hibner began his career, he was fresh off a 25 year run leading the sports copy desk at the State Journal, having substitute taught for a brief time before coming the MCPASD. His first title, while working under Superintendent Don Johnson, was communications and family engagement, but Hibner said as time went on the district recognized that he was really serving a communication director and changed his title. 

“Over time, I feel like they realized how many things I’m involved in, and it was mostly communications,” he stated. 

Hibner’s position is not just press releases and photo ops. He has worked on many aspects of school life, working directly with teachers and students, planning and attending events, working with the school board, giving presentations and whatever else comes down the pike.

“I’m here as a resource,” Hibner offered.

"His work in our district over the past several years, including the integral role he played in the successful referendum, will help our district in numerous ways in the future,” said current superintendent Dana Monogue of Hibner’s tenure with the school.

"Perry is incredibly loyal and a true believer in our community," Monogue continued.

MCPASD communication specialist Ruth Bachmeier reiterated Monogue’s thoughts and said, “I don't know anyone who has more passion, more energy and more enthusiasm for MCPASD than Perry.  Everyone knows him. I have worked much longer in the district than he has, and when I introduce myself, all I have to say is I work with Perry Hibner. Over the past ten years, we have formed a great working partnership, and I will miss it.”

“Ruth has been a valuable resource for me over the years. She has been a great friend and mentor, “ Hibner praised.

Helping to get the 2019 referendum passed is a point of pride for Hibner, who worked to educate the community on the needs of the district. “I took great pride in making sure the public knew why we were asking these questions,” he said. 

The referendum added Pope Farm Elementary and funded an addition at the high school, which is currently underway. The growing district had not passed a referendum in eight years, and had increased in size by nearly 1,500 students, he said. 

Hibner also headed up the Middleton Girls Varsity Softball team for four years, resigning form the position in 2019 after serving as assistant coach for a year. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed working with the kids and had great parent support,” he recalled.

The job has not been without its challenges, and Hibner said COVID-19 has been the most challenging of his career. 

“There is no quick fix. It’s incredibly challenging to meet the needs and wants of staff, families and students. You can’t make everyone happy,” he said of the pandemic, and added that there was no way to prepare for the impact the pandemic would have. 

In addition, Hibner has dealt with incidents of racism, cheating on exams, bomb threats and a plethora of other issues and concerns.

“I like to think–I hope–that we learn from those situations. Not only learn from them, but also make sure that we do better,” he said.

He added that the school needs to be a safe place for staff and students as well a place where students feel safe to make mistakes. There should be room for growth and learning about other countries and cultures he said.

“We should not say it’s a bad thing when people have their horizons open,” he said.

Hibner said there have been few days over the last decade in which he did not look forward to going to work.

“I had a great 10 year run. I know I’ve made an impact on the community, and I hope it’s positive,” Hibner concluded.

 

 

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