Neenah school board votes to hire Appleton school official as its new superintendent

The Neenah Joint School District Board of Education unanimously voted Monday evening to name Appleton Area School District assistant superintendent Dr. Steve Harrison as its new superintendent.

Harrison's hiring is contingent on a successful background check and final contract negotiations. Harrison will replace Dr. Mary Pfeiffer, who will retire as the NJSD superintendent June 30.

Steve Harrison
Steve Harrison

“In many ways, this feels like I’m coming home,” said Harrison in a news release from NJSD. According to the release, his mother was a reading specialist at Spring Road Elementary School in Neenah from 1981-2003.

“I spent a lot of time in my mom’s classroom while growing up and it fueled my desire to work in education," Harrison said. "It’s exciting to come back to a district that has given so much to my family.”

“Steve brings a fresh vision and energy to Neenah,” Board of Education president Brian Epley said in the news release. “His strong background in curriculum and instruction set him apart as a candidate. He also brings an inclusive mindset to build a connected culture across the entire district.”

Harrison has served as Appleton Area School District's assistant superintendent for assessment, curriculum and instruction for the past five years.

Before coming to Appleton, Harrison worked at Oshkosh West High School, teaching science for 10 years and serving as an assistant principal for two. He holds a doctorate from Cardinal Stritch University and master’s degrees from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and UW-Milwaukee.

Harrison's hiring comes after four-month search for new NJSD superintendent

Harrison was chosen from three finalist candidates after a superintendent search that started in January. The NJSD Board of Education retained the services of search firm Hazard, Young, Attea, & Associates, which conducted studies of students, faculty and community to find out the qualities they'd like to see in the next superintendent.

The consensus, according to a report prepared by the search firm, was that the district was looking for a superintendent that "strengthened the culture through authentic leadership," improved communication and community engagement, and was a visionary who could make and communicate difficult decisions.

Ultimately, the firm narrowed the field down to three candidates, who visited NJSD last month and took questions from students, staff and the public.

As for compensation, according to a draft job posting the board presented Jan. 15, the suggested salary range for the position was $190,000 to $220,000.

Rebecca Loroff is a K-12 education reporter for the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. She welcomes story tips and feedback. Contact her at 920-907-7801 or Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) at @RebeccaLoroff.

This article originally appeared on Appleton Post-Crescent: Neenah school board approves hire of new NJSD superintendent