With a passion to provide all students an incredible and valuable learning experience, I started teaching World and US History in October of 1996. I was subbing at any school and at any grade just hoping to land a job. The sudden retirement of a long time well-respected teacher gave me my opportunity. Social Studies positions were hard to find and I was thrilled not only to have a job, but felt fortunate to work in the very school district I received my education. Those early years were terrific and laid the foundation for much of my educational approach and philosophy to this day.
A few short years later, I found myself within the ranks of administration hoping to make a difference on a larger scale. My direct supervisor accepted a principal position at a neighboring high school and I soon became her assistant. As an assistant principal at a Title I high school, with a variety of challenges, I learned how to be an administrator. I started mid-year and the challenges seemed insurmountable from poor student performance to school climate issues. I was green and unsure where to start. Fortunately, a realization emerged that I started to fully embrace: the success of a school requires everyone to strive for the same goals. I started thinking a lot less about me and began cultivating the “we.”
That desire and pursuit continued as I transitioned into the principalship of a 1500+ student body Title I high school. For seven years I worked to build an environment around two major goals: One, give teachers the best scenario to perfect and practice their craft; Two, provide students every opportunity to learn in a secure, enriching environment. As a school we made great strides and received various awards and accolades that enabled us to grow even stronger as a school community. Being the first high school in Delaware to receive the academic achievement award for closing the achievement gap was a hallmark of our relentless pursuit. This was quite different from our previous state rating of “under improvement” with threats of sanctions.
As a school, we made learning our first priority and collectively we embraced professional growth. As principal, I invested much of my time in growing school leaders–students, teachers, and administrators–leadership and self-improvement was our focus. When I was honored as Delaware’s principal of the year in 2010, I was humbled by the honor, but fully recognized this was a school wide achievement. Each of us were willing to learn and grow from one another, which required humility, receptivity, vulnerability, and a great attitude. My seven years were far from pollyanna and we encountered very difficult challenges; however, we embraced our reality to create the school we desired.
Currently, my efforts continue now in the central office where I work as the director of assessment and accountability. This new focus drills deep into the heart of teaching and learning as we focus on student learning and achievement. Through refined skills, such as data analysis and effective collaboration we desire to reach every child.
The combination of precision, best practices, and passion forges my educational ideals and provides a clear path to reach our goals. Educationally, I believe my time spent within the walls of schools has been my best teacher. However, formally I was fortunate to complete my doctoral studies at the University of Delaware with a concentration in Educational Leadership. The time spent with amazing professors refined my ability to cut through the minutiae and focus on what will earn the most gains. With a concentration in ed leadership and focusing on data analysis, I not only left with a diploma, but with a discreet set of skills.
In addition, I work as an adjunct professor constructing courses and teaching primarily new teachers at the graduate and undergraduate level. This work keeps me fresh and always reminds of the challenges new teachers face. On a personal note, I am married to my high school sweetheart who is an exceptional first grade teacher where our three boys also attend. I truly enjoy reading, the beach, and consider myself a health and wellness enthusiast, completing triathlons and most recently running my first ultra marathon.
If you want to learn more about my daily leadership practices, who inspires me, and some of my educational ideas, you can find me on Twitter @jonesjosephsub1