Haussler "coming home" as new director of special education co-op
For 15 years, Amy Haussler of Holton worked as a school psychologist for the Holton Special Education Cooperative, most of that time under former long-term Director of Special Education Mark B. Wilson.
It was during Haussler’s second year with the co-op that she jokingly told Wilson that one of these days, she would have his job.
“He laughed and said, ‘You mean this actual seat, or just being a director?’ I said, I’ll be a director. We’ll just see where I end up landing,” she said.
Starting with the 2016-17 school year, Haussler will occupy the seat that Wilson retired from five years ago. The USD 336 Board of Education last week offered a contract to Haussler as the co-op’s director, taking over from Vicki Vossler.
Haussler, who’s been working the last four years as director of special education for the Marshall-Nemaha Educational Services Cooperative in Seneca, couldn’t be happier.
“Making this move back to Holton, in a sense, is like coming back home,” Haussler said. “I feel like I was pretty much raised in the Holton co-op, when it comes to my career in special education. So I already have a lot of prior knowledge of how the Holton co-op works.”
During her 15 years with the Holton co-op, she said she was also able to build good relationships with staff members and families in the community. Coming back to Holton, she said will give her an opportunity to build on those relationships.
Haussler also sees the Holton co-op as a source of endless opportunities for growth.
“Holton’s co-op has always been very rich in available resources,” she said. “There are just so many opportunities to build on that and strengthen the services and the quality of services that are provided to students. I don’t know that there’s a lot in the co-op that needs to be changed, because there are so many great things that have happened there over the years.”
One of those great things, she said, was Wilson’s leadership — and influence.
“I still keep in touch with him, and he’s still kind of a father figure to me,” Haussler said of Wilson. “You look back at the stability the co-op had under Mark, and he was there for 31 years. And I looked up to him, I had so much respect for him. I still do.”
It was, in fact, Wilson — and his assistant and later predecessor, Vicki Smith — who encouraged Haussler to seek a degree in administration in 2008, she said.
“They gave me that push that I needed to step up and start learning how to do this,” she said.
Already having earned her Ed.S. in school psychology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, she sought administrative degrees from Emporia State University, earning a building leadership degree in 2009 and a district leadership degree in 2012.
That was the year she took on her current position with Marshall-Nemaha, and while she’s grateful for what she accomplished there, Vossler’s departure opened the door for her to cut the commute and work closer to home. She’s lived in Holton for nearly two decades with husband (and Holton High School teacher) Kurt, with whom she has two children.
“It’s time to come home,” she said. “My kids are at the point where, with AJ as a sophomore and Faith as an eighth-grader this year, I’m going to have two in high school next year. It’s going to be good to be home and be available to them.”