Dr. Keyser Assumes Role of Superintendent


photo submitted by dan keyser

In his free time, Keyser enjoys hiking and being in nature with his wife and two sons.

After eleven years as superintendent, Tim Onsager retired in Feb. 2022. Since then, there has been a search to fill this position, a role with a significant impact on everyone involved with the Stoughton Area School District. A handful of qualified candidates went through a process to determine the best fit for the position. On May 13, 2022, after this lengthy process, the SASD school board selected Dr. Daniel Keyser as their new Superintendent.
Firstly, the application process involved an initial interview with the SASD school board to become a candidate. Once Keyser became a finalist, along with other applicants, community members, SASD staff, and building administrators interviewed him, with the process ending with an additional interview by the School Board.
Keyser is fairly new to the SASD and Stoughton in general, so those impacted by his job currently may not know that much about him.
Keyser grew up in Mount Horeb until his parents divorced, then moved to Madison. In 1992, he graduated from Madison West High School.
He earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Edgewood College and has had 24 years of experience in education before beginning a new chapter in the SASD.
A Superintendent’s role is to oversee a school district, with all those who work within it reporting to them. Keyser will oversee the five schools in the Stoughton Area School District, consisting of three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school.
To Keyser, the Superintendent’s job entails connecting the community and school district.
“When you think of a school board, they are representatives of the community, they are trustees of the school district, and then you’ve got the building administrators and the staff, which are all a part of the district. Then there’s one person who floats between both realms, and that’s the superintendent,” Keyser says.
Right now, Keyser’s main focus is to become familiar with the people of Stoughton. Keyser’s last job was interin Superintendent of the Beloit School District, a 40-minute drive from Stoughton. As a newcomer, Keyser has been setting up interviews to better get to know key community members.
“I just met with the head of Parks and Rec, and earlier this week, I met with the head of the Youth Center. I’ve spent a lot of my time getting to have one-on-one interviews with individuals in the community. In the district, I’m trying to learn what is set in stone,” Keyser says.
Once he becomes more established, one of Keyser’s biggest priorities for Stoughton High School is to provide more opportunities for high school students. Keyser also wants to consider high school students who are not planning on attending college or going on a traditional post-graduation route.
“I’m really a strong believer in partnerships and opportunity. I think schools and school districts have a unique ability to provide a lot of opportunities to our students,” Keyser says. “That can look a lot of different ways. That can be like the opportunity to earn college credits while still in [high] school. It’s also the opportunity to try out different areas of interest through internships, apprenticeships, and job shadows. To do that, I first need to know what already exists and then what the natural opportunities are to expand from there.”
There are immense impacts a Superintendent can have on a district, from policy development to monitoring, scheduling, and budgeting. One thing Keyser will have in his mind while fulfilling his duties is creating and maintaining equity. To Keyser, his three central values are family, compassion, and equity, and he believes the latter is incredibly valuable to nurture a quality environment.
“For me, equity is about identifying our strengths and leveraging our strengths to achieve the outcomes that we want. Equity is both something that you have to cultivate individually and explicitly, so you have to do equity work by itself, but then it also has to be a part of everything you do. So equity has to be a part of the decision-making process,” Keyser explains. “Equity is always saying when something happens, ‘Yeah, this is how we’ve handled it in the past, but should we be handling it that way now, or should we be making a change for the future?’”
Keyser then elaborates on some of his plans to produce and preserve equity within SASD.
“I met with our teacher representative, our teachers union, and I’d like to meet with them on a regular basis. [I’d like to establish] what student organizations there are. It’s great that we have a student representative on the board, but what other ways can we elevate student voice in that decision-making process?” Keyser says. “I want us to talk openly about ideas and approaches we won’t always necessarily agree on, but the outcome that we can all commit to will be the best idea for that moment. Then the nice thing is, we can always revisit it if we come up with a better way in the future.”
The responsibilities a Superintendent holds are vast. Knowledgeable of the expectations the role of a Superintendent possesses, Keyser is excited about the future.
“To me, who wouldn’t want to have a classroom that encompasses five buildings and a community that starts within Stoughton? That’s exhilarating. The impact may be very little on some, but it could be significant on others because if we can open up a partnership that would allow someone to explore their passion while in high school, and solidify for them, ‘This is the career area that I want to explore more deeply,'” Keyser says. To anyone, from staff members to students to community members, who have a concept they want to bring into reality, Keyser encourages them to reach out to him.
“I know it can be scary to just email the Superintendent, but if anyone has an idea, send them my way because I love to hear ideas,” Keyser says.
Those with a suggestion can reach out to Keyser at [email protected]