10 Questions With New Tosa West Principal Corey Golla

Claire Guttormson and Daisy Lehman

Lehman: Hello.

Golla: Hey. 

Lehman: Can we ask you some questions?

Golla: You sure can.

Lehman: Perfect. Alright, what has been your first impression of Tosa West?

Golla: My first impression of Tosa West has been awesome. I got to see an East-West volleyball game, and a couple football games. It’s been kind of strange because I don’t know the students yet, yet I’m supervising them, but it’s been great. I’ve mostly been around the teachers, and the teachers are just so warm, inviting, and just really easy to get to know, and they speak so highly of all of the students here. 

Lehman: What is one thing Tosa West students should know about you?

Golla: One thing Tosa West students should know is that I love being an administrator in schools. So I was an athletic director for some time. I was a principal at Menomonee Falls for four years. I then worked in a district office for awhile in Menomonee Falls for the last six years. And I’m really excited to be back in a building, around students, being able to go to events, being able to be in classrooms. I just like that student contact.

Lehman: What would you say to address concerns about your history of administration within other school districts?

Golla: Ask me that once more if you don’t mind.

Lehman: Oh yeah, sorry.

Golla: That’s ok.

Lehman: What would you say to address concerns about your history of administration within other school districts?

Golla: I don’t know what concerns are. I’ve been in administration now for about 15 years and I always focus everything on the students. What do I think is best for the students and the school at that time and always try to balance the needs of the whole school and the needs of the individual students that I’m working with. Every decision I’ve made, everything I’ve been a part of has always been very much student-centered, and I feel like as hard as the job could be, as complex as it could be, that’s what matters the most.

Lehman: What made you want to go into education?

Golla: I just had a lot of good teachers and coaches as I was growing up. It might surprise people, because I am a principal, I wasn’t necessarily the best student, I wasn’t necessarily the best behaved student and I just had the right teachers, the right coaches, at the right time that got me on track. So, when I was in college at the University of Lacrosse I just kept getting drawn back to the education program, since I felt like that’s a place…education mattered to me, and that was a place where I could have a very nice impact.

Lehman: Why did you choose to teach public school over private school?

Golla: I suppose that’s because that’s where my experience always was, was in the public school sector. I mean there’s a few personal financial pieces that matter to that, like the pension and the benefits are often better. But also, at my core, appreciate the fact that public schools serve all students and no matter what their means are, where they’re headed, where they come from, public schools serve everyone, and they’re a cornerstone of our democracy so that’s why I really value my time in public education for that reason.

Lehman: What do you see for the future of Tosa West?

Golla: Well Tosa West is a great school. It’s always been a great school. I’ve worked in this area my whole career, so I see us really building on things that are great. I see what we’ve already done this summer is just including the voice of teachers and students in that future, in that direction. I mean, we’ve been using a tagline, Ms. Klaybour, Mr. Bold, and I, and now with the whole staff, making West a place where every student thrives, and really digging into what does that mean, if every student is thriving. How could we be a place that serves everyone no matter what your path may be, or what your goal may be, how strong of a student you are  or how much they struggle, so that’s what I see as our future. It’s such an engaging place, so many cool programs, like the one you’re a part of here. Building on those, try to get more students engaged the way you are. Get everyone feeling very valued and passioned about things here at West.

Lehman: How have you, and how are you going to ease your transition as you become the new principal?

Golla: Well, this helps. Like the more I get to just interact with students. One of my first contacts here was a tour with some students here at West, so I could get to know more people here individually. Also, meeting with teachers, I started this summer meeting individually with teachers. We have a leadership team of teachers that came here. I spent a ton of time with Mr. Bold and Ms. Klaybour here so that’s been great to build the team together and know each other personally and professionally and we just have a great synergy so I would say my transition is just sort of person by person, you know, try to really get to know the place, know the people, and not try to  make too many changes until I understand what’s happening. 

Lehman: What skills would you like to see students graduate Tosa West with?

Leadership, most importantly. I think there’s a lot to build in here, the unions that you have, the student leadership opportunities, all the curricular activities, APPSE, all of those things. I really want students to leave here with a lot of confidence. I want them to be creative problem solvers. You’re in a world that’s pretty complicated and has a lot of challenges, so the more that we can develop your capacity to elad and problem solve and work with people, those are critical. Obviously we want to be excellent students, all of those pieces, but there is so much more to being successful at school then just having good grades or being able to succeed in a particular class.

Lehman: Who is your favorite fictional principal?

Golla: My favorite fictional principal, I don’t know if…uh…I didn’t…I wouldn’t want to be like him, but I always remember Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and the principal there. Unfortunately, if you watch a lot of movies, there are very few times where principals are shown as being really great people and people you want to be with so I would like to be the opposite of most of what you’re seeing on TV.

Lehman: And lastly, what is your type priority as principal.

Golla: My top priority is really setting a stand here, working with students, working with teachers to create and build on that identity, and being very clear about what we want this place to be for all of you and then holding all of us accountable for what this place needs to be and feel like for us to be successful that way. To be a place where every student thrives, it has to be safe, it has to feel comfortable for all students of all backgrounds, it has to feel focused, and it also has to feel fun. School should be fun, so you can do great things, you can be ready when you leave here and still have a great, rich experience from Wauwatosa West.

Lehman: Great, thank you so much!

Golla: Thank you.