The Mellon Foundation awarded $150,000 to Knox College for a research project entitled “Pedagogies, Communiti...
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Galesburg, IL 61401
Principal, Vista PEAK Preparatory
Majors in Education and English Literature
After leaving Knox, Jason taught American and British literature, composition, and language arts at Kenwood Academy and Hyde Park Career Academy in Chicago, and received a Master's of Arts in School Leadership from Concordia University. In his current position as principal at Vista PEAK Preparatory in Colorado, Jason oversees instructional and teacher development and provides equity-driven leadership. At Knox, Jason was a four-year starter on the men's basketball team.
What advice would you give to someone hoping to pursue a career in education?
Find your passion and see it through. A career in education will be rewarding and amazing if you are doing it for all of the right reasons. That means focusing on educating every student and supporting them to reach their goals. Teaching and learning is a process, and you must both trust and respect that process. No different than a course at Knox, if you prepare, have done your homework/research, and are data-driven, you will see promising results. If you do the opposite of that, not only will you struggle, but so will your students. Wherever you decide to be an educator, your students will be great and appreciate you each and every day whether they tell you that or not.
What is the most rewarding part of your career?
The most rewarding part of my career is the relationships I make with other professionals, the students I am fortunate to serve and I get to watch grow over a four-year academic career, and the connections that are the result of that service. When you positively impact young people, they often return years later to say thank you. To me, that means the world and makes it all worth it as an educator.
What is your favorite memory—recent or not—you have from teaching/working as a principal?
A favorite experience for me is each year when students say thank you to me for being present, for caring about them and listening to their needs, for being positive during times when they experience challenges, and thank me overall for being their principal.
How has the experience of working as a principal during COVID-19 altered the way you think about working in education?
Being a principal or educator in general during COVID-19 has been enlightening. It has been a very challenging time and an emotionally demanding shift in what is required to be successful as an educator. Principals have been asked to not only support student-related matters and needs but also focus additional attention on the social and emotional needs of professional staff members as well. I think that anyone who was unsure about whether or not education was for them may not have stuck around for the long haul, which is perfectly fine. I think our students deserve to receive the very best efforts from the best educators at all times. The professionals who continue to do this work each day now with all of the newly added complexities truly love teaching, care about our kids, and are in this work for all of the right reasons.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Whether you have a plan by the time you graduate or are unsure of your career journey and aspirations, Knox will help prepare you to tackle challenges you never thought you would, both professionally and socially. Be courageous in the lifelong pursuit of your purpose after Knox. I say courageous and not fearless in reference to the words of Nelson Mandela who said, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." To feel fear does not mean you are unprepared or unqualified. It means you care enough about the work that you want to get it right. Fear is a normal human emotion that we will experience in life. Do not flee. Lean into that fear. Learn from it. Embrace that fear. In the end, you will be happy you did, and you will only grow ready for the next challenge as a result.