Home Madison Homegrown: Madison native Joseph Rosas takes the helm at Badger Rock Middle...

Homegrown: Madison native Joseph Rosas takes the helm at Badger Rock Middle School

Photo supplied.

Some of the most valuable school staff in public schools are the result of the schools themselves, and Madison’s Joseph Rosas, who will be stepping in as interim principal this year at Badger Rock Middle School, is an example.

Rosas has had experience and schooling around education attending Madison College before transferring to UW-Madison, but where it all truly started was in MMSD. Rosas credits the district and his time as a student first at Lake View Elementary, then Black Hawk Middle, and finally Madison East High in giving him the pride and passion to return back to East at the beginning of his career journey.   

“I was really passionate about social justice and juvenile justice at the time and did some work here and there with them. I decided to do the second year of my master’s in the school system. I tried my best to go back to East High School as an intern for social work,” Rosas recalled to Madison365, who then took a position with Wright Middle School for seven years while going on to complete a master’s program at Edgewood to enter administration work.

“At a small school, you wear multiple hats as a social worker. You’re doing a little bit of everything, but I was inspired to then go into administration. Dr. Angie Hicks was there at that time, and I was always asking her, ‘What do you think?’ She helped and gave me some good advice on leadership.”

What drew Rosas to Badger Rock when the administrative position opened up are the extra things offered at the school that align with his perspective as a social worker. Badger Rock shares their building with the urban agriculture organization, Rooted, who runs the Badger Rock Neighborhood Center out of the location, creating opportunities for direct on-site learning.  

“They do urban agriculture and social justice,” said Rosas. “They’re working hands-on doing project-based learning. They do all of the core instruction that other schools do, so there’s still math, science, social studies, ELA, but then there’s project time in the afternoon where they’re embedding these things that are hands-on. To see it and to see what the students create, it’s honestly phenomenal.”

Rosas hopes to continue strengthening relationships with community partners and with Badger Rock families who have been welcoming and vocal about their wants for the kids to shine at the school. The task is seemingly well underway as Rosas confirmed that they are doing what they can through social media and connecting directly with families to get the Badger Rock name out there. 

“Getting those voices are key,” Rosas said. “I have some ideas of things that I would like to continue to work through, such as project-based learning and urban agriculture. Continuing that work, but also one of my big things going into this school year is I want Madison to know who Badger Rock is. We want to spread the word about what we do, who we are, and why we’re here as one of the few charter instrumentality middle schools in the district.”

Rosas also was happy to share other good news such as former students returning to help on projects, as well as the development of a top-of-the-line culinary kitchen lab for students to access the vast world of cooking and food production.