Choosing greatness for our schools

A column of perspective from the district’s community newsletter, Education Issues.


Many of our residents recognize that whether they have children enrolled in our schools or not, the Hamilton School District has an impact on their lives. Our goal has been to provide high quality programming for the children of our community while operating in the most fiscally responsible manner possible. The fact that Hamilton is one of the highest-achieving, yet lowest-spending districts in the are is testament to our quest to best serve the needs of taxpayers and students.

We are happy to share exciting news that demonstrates the success we have experienced in meeting our goals including:

  • The district was named Government Agency of the Year in the Waukesha County Executive Awards Program presented by County Executive Daniel Vrakas based on our ability to leverage resources to provide high quality services to our community.
  • A record number of Hamilton High School students were named Advanced Placement Scholars by the College Board in recognition of their exceptional achievement on college-level AP exams.
  • Templeton Middle School is one of only 11 Wisconsin school that has earned the prestigious honor of being named Exemplary Middle School for four consecutive years.
  • Sound financial management has resulted in an upgrade in the district’s financial rating from Moody’s Investor Service. The higher credit rating means that taxpayers will save $56,000 on top of more than $400,000 that had been anticipated through restructuring of $3.7 million of debt.
  • Reduced energy consumption has avoided more than $427,445 in increased costs despite the fact that the district has added more than 100,000 square feet of new space.
  • Hamilton High School’s 2010 ACT composite score was the highest in the history of the school.
  • District employees are regularly recognized for their professional accomplishments. Marcy Elementary School music teacher Rod Loren, Ph.D., for example, was chosen for the Fulbright-Hays summer seminar based on a rigorous review process.

We have much to celebrate in this community. Our accomplishments are significant, and they did not happen by chance. They are the result of dedicated individuals who care deeply about the well-being of others and who are committed to realizing the goals of the district’s Strategic Plan. The schools belong to the community. By leveraging our resources to operate a strong educational system that functions in a fiscally responsible manner, the communities of the Hamilton School District are enhanced and all residents benefit.


Superintendent Kathleen M. Cooke

Ph.D. Education
M.S. Education Administration and Supervision
B.S. Elementary and Early Childhood Education

1993 – Present Superintendent, Hamilton School District
1992-1993 Assistant Superintendent, Oconomowoc School District
1990-1992 Director of Human Resources, Oconomowoc School District
1987-1990 Middle School Principal, Oconomowoc School District
1986-1987 Elementary School Principal, Oconomowoc School District
1985-1986 Program Evaluation Specialist, Oconomowoc School District
1979-1985 Elementary Teacher, Oconomowoc School District

2013 Administrator of the Year – Educational Media Technology Association
2012 Outstanding Administrator Award – Wisconsin State Reading Association
2008 “Connect Ed” Award – American Association of School Administrators/National School Public Relations Association
2007 Distinguished Service Award – Association of Wisconsin School Administrators
2002 Community Service Award – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
2002 Appointment by Governor Thompson to Governor’s Work-Based Learning Board
1999 Recognition by Governor Thompson for first 2+2+2 program to Articulate High School to Technical College to University System
1997 Leadership for Learning Finalist – American Association of School Administrators
1996 Superintendent of the Year – Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators
1996 Milwaukee Business Journal “40 Under 40″ Future Community Business Leaders Award


  • Superintendent, Hamilton School District, 1993-Present
  • Increased student achievement as evidenced by local performance assessments, state standardized test scores, ACT and AP scores, and district drop-out, graduation, and attendance rates.
  • Hamilton School district earned the top “significantly exceed expectations” rating on the most recent School Report Card released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
  • Community approved four referendums, including approximately $36.6 million in school construction and authority to exceed state revenue caps for operational costs.
  • Constructed three classroom additions and an athletic center from district budget and fund balance without a referendum. (Approximate value $13 million)
  • Implemented and evaluated innovative programs to increase achievement including high school block schedule, four-year-old kindergarten, early reading and early mathematics empowerment programs, honors and advanced placement programming, Project Lead the Way.
  • Implemented Wisconsin’s first 2 + 2 + 2 seamless program in public education.
  • Implemented district and site data driven school improvement process, including development of site profiles, identification and monitoring of success indicators, disaggregation and analysis of achievement data, modification of board report format, etc.
  • Implemented strategic visioning and tactical planning process based on processes used in business.
  • Implemented quality interviews process, and learning environment reviews along with parent, business, and community surveys and student focus group process to identify and address constituency expectations.
  • Implemented Business Advisory Council to seek feedback regarding employment skills needed by business community and implementation of business practices in the Hamilton School District.
  • Engaged community in facilities, budget, curriculum, achievement, and attendance boundary advisory committees to plan, monitor, and evaluate initiatives.
  • Implemented inter-generational Seniors and Students initiative in partnership with Retired Senior Volunteer Program with over 200 senior volunteers contributing over $2 million in services since its inception.
  • Implemented cost savings/efficiency measures including staff reduction/reallocation, refinancing debt, energy conservation, purchasing natural gas through broker, and insurance concessions for self-funded health insurance.
  • Implemented state’s first Other Post-Employment Benefits Trust for self-insured health insurance plan.
  • Eliminated $36.6 million Other Post-Employment Benefit liability.
    The district has received numerous recognition including:

    • 2012 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Top Workplaces Award 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
    • Forbes Magazine named the Hamilton School District to its “Best Schools For Your Housing Buck.” Hamilton was ranked No. 13 on the national list of communities with the best high-performing public school districts with affordable housing.
    • Bloomberg BusinessWeek “Best Places to Raise Your Kids in 2012”
    • 2010 Waukesha County Government of the Year award
    • Public Policy Forum Salute to Local Government “Managing for Results” award.

– Association of American School Administrators
– American Association of School Administrators Audit Committee, 1999-2002
– Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators
– Mid-America Association of School Superintendents (President-2002)
– Suburban School Superintendents Association, 2009-present
– Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
– Phi Delta Kappa
– Southeastern Wisconsin Schools Alliance (Founding Co-Chair 2003-2005)

– Instructor, Cardinal Stritch University, ED 760 Superintendency and ED 770 School Economics and Finance 2004-2014
– Author Master Teacher publications: The Board, Galileo (1997-present)
– Presentations: State and national educational associations, 1996 – present

– Menomonee Falls Rotary Club, 1994-Present (President-2002-03)
– Sussex Area Chamber of Commerce, 1994-Present
– Waukesha County Technical College, Board of Directors, 1994-2000