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Madison Metropolitan School District

Superintendent's Office

Dr. Joe Gothard, a Madison native, is firmly grounded in the community and in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). An MMSD alum, Dr. Gothard grew up on Madison’s east side and attended Elvehjem Elementary School, Sennett Middle School and La Follette High School. Having dedicated more than 30 years to public education, Dr. Gothard is a long-time supporter of students, staff and families and believes that people are at the center of everything we do. 

Dr. Gothard launched his teaching career as a high school biology teacher at La Follette. He has also served as an educational assistant, a football coach, a principal, dean of students and as assistant superintendent for secondary schools in MMSD. Additionally, he was an MMSD parent. All of these experiences gave him a unique opportunity to view education from different perspectives and contributed to the leader he is today. 

Most recently, Dr. Gothard served as superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS), a position he held for seven years. His collaboration and partnerships with the community resulted in many successful efforts and programs, including development of a strategic plan to focus on academic achievement; revitalization of the district’s facilities and capital implementation plan to share projects and budgets with the public in real time; and creation of Envision SPPS, designed to use school buildings in the best way possible to contribute to students’ learning. The opening of East African Elementary Magnet School is a highlight of his time at St. Paul. He supported this community-led initiative, believed to be a first-of-its-kind public school in the nation.  

In addition, Dr. Gothard helped launch and lead educational programs and initiatives to benefit youth in grades pre-K to 12 by addressing early learning, literacy, equity, access, language and career preparedness. Programs and initiatives include Nature Discovery Pre-Kindergarten, All Ready for Kindergarten, What I Need Now, How are the Children, Junior Achievement North 3DE, 3M Advanced Career Pathway Center and a middle school dedicated to Environmental – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Diverse language opportunities include expansion of the Hmong Dual Language/Hmong Culture program to middle schools, creation of a district-wide virtual Native language courses in Lakota, Dakota and Ojibwe and addition of Karen (Kah-Ren) classes, a language spoken in Thailand and Burma.

I have not succeeded at anything in my career alone. I believe in people and the impactful work we do together to help each child reach their full potential.
Dr. Joe Gothard

Prior to his tenure in St. Paul, Dr. Gothard spent four years as the superintendent of the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District, also known as District 191. Dr. Gothard led VisionOne91, a community effort to bring real world ready experiences to the everyday lives of students and staff. VisionOne91 focused on realignment of resources, career pathways, community partnerships and equitable access. 

Dr. Gothard was named the 2024 Minnesota Superintendent of the Year and went on to be honored as the School Superintendents Association (AASA) 2024 National Superintendent of the Year. He has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Laureate from the Junior Achievement North Hall of Fame, the Edgewood College Distinguished Alumni Award, the Minnesota Association of School Administrators Award and the MMSD Commitment to Diversity Award. He was also a Green Garner Award Finalist, Council of the Great City Schools. 

Dr. Gothard earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in education from Edgewood College, where he sits on the Board of Trustees. He was appointed to serve as Superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District on February 26, 2024. Dr. Gothard and his wife, Mary look forward to their return to Madison. They are the parents of three adult children who live in the Twin Cities.

Dr. Gothard speaks with students at Elvejhem Elementary School.


Dr. Gothard with students and Board of Education members at Thoreau Elementary School.