Ready to lead

Ready to lead


UW-Superior master’s program provides career growth

For non-traditional students, flexibility is key. This is certainly true for University of Wisconsin-Superior student, Matt Wolk.

Wolk has a very full plate. In addition to his full-time career at The Career and College Academy in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, he is also an advocate for The Treehouse – a youth-focused non-profit – and helps staff the National Night Out in his area.

He is also a husband and father. His wife, Kate, is a school counselor. The couple share an 11-year-old daughter, Leland, and two dogs.

Soon, Wolk will earn his Master of Science in Education – Educational Administration degree from UW-Superior and feels the completely-online program has fully prepared him to take the next step in his career journey. He hopes to be promoted to principal one day. The additional licensures he is pursuing – in principalship and director of instruction – will also help prepare him for any opportunities that arise.

Due to his busy life, Wolk prioritized completion of his coursework online.

“I explored multiple UW schools, and ultimately chose UWS,” he said. “It checked all the boxes: it was remote, had a supportive online community and offered great access to instructors. I didn’t want to be a face in the crowd.”

Path to learning

Wolk was born and raised in Crystal Lake, Illinois, and now lives in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. His father, Rich, worked as a salesman, and his mother, Mary Jo, was an educator.

“My brother and I spent our summers running around my mom’s school,” he said. “My parents encouraged me to go into education, but I fought it initially.”

Wolk earned a bachelor’s degree with a double-major in geography and GIS from UW-La Crosse. Later, he was in pursuit of a graduate degree in geography, but had an epiphany when he was on a backpacking trip, and decided to pivot to education. He earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Montana.

Wolk taught high school geography and history in Montana for a time. Later, he and his wife, Kate, moved to Wisconsin.

After a few months of full-time substitute teaching, he was hired to teach at-risk students at The Alternative High School in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, in 2009. The school underwent a rebrand in 2020, and became The Career and College Academy.

“It’s one of the only schools in the state to offer students the option to earn a free associate degree, along with their high school diploma,” Wolk said.

During the 2023-24 school year, he was promoted to an administrator position, and now serves as associate principal and programming coordinator.

“It’s never dull,” Wolk said. “I’m always on the go. I start the day checking in with the principal and other administrators. I meet with associate degree students, and make sure students who work off-site have transportation. I take care of any issues that arise at the school. I run the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant at our school. And, I attend a lot of meetings.”

An education with options

Wolk’s superintendent encouraged him to continue his education. And, as noted, he landed on UWS.

In addition to the flexibility of online coursework, Wolk also praises UWS’ affordable tuition and flexible pacing. He also knows that once he graduates, he will have plenty of options.

“This path opens up a variety of leadership positions at the district level, at an individual school, and even in higher education,” he said. “I have recommended this program to many people I know. It broadens your experience in the profession, and helps you better support students academically, and socially/emotionally. There’s a real need for educational leadership, and we need people who are caring and ready to lead.”

A meaningful career

Wolk loves his work and looks forward to continuing it upon graduation.

“The most rewarding thing about this career is being able to support staff, students and the community,” he said. “In particular, I love graduation day, and seeing students enjoy wins that they didn’t even think were attainable.”