“Education is Life Changing.” Dawn Crim Hits Stride at Wisconsin DPI

“Education is Life Changing.” Dawn Crim Hits Stride at Wisconsin DPI

Dawn Crim

After two decades at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dawn Crim, the former School of Education’s associate dean for external relations, has embarked on the next phase of her career in education as an Assistant State Superintendent for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), a position she started in August.

As the Assistant State Superintendent for the Division for Student and School Success, the Philadelphia native hopes to continue fulfilling her goal of connecting people to educational resources.

She now oversees four units: The Office of Educational Accountability, The Office of Student Assessment, Title I and School Support Team, Wisconsin Educational Opportunity Programs/Urban Education Team. The four areas are tasked with a wide range of responsibilities such as producing school and district report cards, statewide testing, managing federal educational funding and pre-college programming for middle and high school students.  

“They’re large areas but they really encompass places that students need support,” Crim said. “Really, I’ve spent the last six months learning more about the students and the district that we serve from the standpoint of those four areas.”

Crim originally came to Wisconsin to serve on UW-Madison’s Women’s Basketball coaching staff in 1996; however, she has always aimed to be heavily involved in education.

“I believe education is life-changing, so I’ve always been active in some level within the schools or working in education, practically all my adult life,” Crim said.

As a first-generation college student, Crim received her master’s degree in education from Penn State University and is currently working on her doctorate in educational leadership and administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

At the university, Crim served for seven years in the Chancellor’s office as a liaison between the Madison Metropolitan School District and the university to bridge the gap between campus and community. Her efforts led to programming such as PEOPLE Prep which is pre-college program—the only arm of PEOPLE Program that targets elementary students, grades third through fifth.

In 2011, Crim became the School of Education’s Dean for External Relations where she spent another seven years furthering the Wisconsin idea of applying research to solve problems for citizens of the state.

“I really had all types of exposure and education in terms of the research that’s happening to help improve learning outcomes for students to help better teacher preparation, to help with access. I mean It was really everything education under the sun in terms of what students need for K-12 to make those transitions,” Crim said.

Crim has also committed much of her time to Madison Metropolitan School District parent councils and advisory boards over the last 18 years. Currently, she sits on the West High School parent advisory council.

“When I was approached by the Department of Public Instruction, I initially thought ‘huh, I’m in higher ed, why me?’ and then when I think about all that experience and all that interaction it’s all right there,” Crim said.

According to DPI, the department is responsible for 867,137 enrolled students across 424 districts statewide. Crim shared that one of her goals for this new role is to increase awareness of opportunities available to these schools and students so more students can achieve their dreams.

“When I see opportunities I’m thinking about what two, three, four people can I share this opportunity with so that they can take advantage of it – constantly on the lookout for making those connections for people,” Crim said.

Written by Kynala Phillips

Kynala Phillips

Kynala is a Black girl enthusiast and a Journalism and Mass Communication student at UW-Madison.