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10 to watch: Dr. Michael Waiksnis

Dr. Mike Waiksnis

Dr. Mike Waiksnis is one half of Knox Middle School’s new transformational leadership team, along with Co-Principal Dr. Latoya Dixon.

“We know we still have a lot left to do and a lot of pieces to put together at Knox, but we’re pleased with our progress so far,” he said.

“With two principals, decisions come out more effective,” he said. “It’s like having a thought partner.”

The co-principal model has allowed both Waiksnis and Dixon to be more visible around the school.

“We were both pretty good principals by ourselves, but together, we’re that much better,” he said.

Collaboration isn’t new for Waiksnis and Dixon.

In Rock Hill, Waiksnis and Dixon frequently collaborated, presenting together at conferences and even founding the first Ed Camp in South Carolina.

Waiksnis received a bachelor’s degree in social science with a teacher’s certification from Florida Atlantic University.

He taught high school history and technology and coached baseball and then became an assistant principal. During that time, he received his master’s degree from Florida Atlantic.

Waiksnis took an assistant principal position in Rock Hill, South Carolina, then became a principal a year and a half later at Sullivan Middle School. He was principal there for six years, and he he earned his doctorate of education from Gardner-Webb University.

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Job title: Co-principal of Knox Middle School

Age: 37

Address: Indian Land, South Carolina

If you won $1 million in the lottery, what would you do? He would set money aside to pay for his children’s college tuition, take his family traveling and give money to the American Cancer Society.

Favorite hobby: ”Baseball and sports are a passion of mine,” he said, adding that he also enjoys spending time hanging out with his family.

Who should play you in a movie? “I’m not a huge movie fan, so I don’t know,” he said, but eventually settled on a mix between Kevin Costner (because of the sports movies he’s done) and Robin Williams (because of his adaptability).

What would you choose for your last meal? Steak and potatoes and banana pudding.

Who will you watch in 2015? Locally, the Rowan-Salisbury administration, Board of Education and county commissioners. Nationally, Arne Duncan, the secretary of education and education policy.

“Locally, we have a new makeup of the Board of Education and it really sounds like there’s a real interest in working together,” he sad.

Biggest challenge in 2015: “Continuing the transformation process,” as well as teacher recruitment and retention.

Biggest hope for 2015: “My greatest hope would be for everyone to realize how critical quality education is.”

Reaction to making the list: “I’m very excited and very honored to be chosen as a person to watch.”

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