Marie Bourke Leadership Award
About the Award: This award recognizes an outstanding LPS principal and the impact they have on the lives of students and teachers.
Awarded Amount: $1,000 and participation in the Gallup Leadership program
Nominated By: Rachael Kluck-Spann, Associate Principal at Irving Middle School.
Nomination: Since Jason has served as the principal at Irving Middle School 5 years ago, our school has been transformed into a school community that fosters academic excellence, exudes the importance of collaboration and providing students meaningful learning opportunities, highlights the power of implementing research based instructional strategies and reinforces the commitment to building relationships with all stakeholders. Jason is the model of a 'servant leader.' He sees the 'big picture' of the importance of a positive school culture and reinforces the collective work of our staff by providing professional development opportunities and support to do 'whatever it takes' to ensure 'all means all' at Irving Middle School.
Our mission at Irving Middle School is that we are committed to personal responsibility, ethical behaviors, cultural awareness, life-long learning and academic excellence. This mission statement was refined a few years ago when we got together with our staff to update and determine our core beliefs. Since this time we have developed intentional learning opportunities for our staff to reflect upon who we are as professional educators, who we serve and how to serve our students, their families/guardians, and our community. Jason has entrusted his vision with all stakeholders and successfully partnered with leaders within our building and the community to partner with one another as we aim to fulfill our mission.
For example, collaboration is an important aspect of our work at Irving. In order to ensure our teachers were collaborating effectively and making meaningful instructional decisions, our leadership team has reinforced the power of Professional Learning Communities (PLC's). Jason and our administrative team had the opportunity to participate in a 3 day professional development about PLC's and took what we learned from this conference back to Irving to reinvigorate how we successfully use the PLC process. We started at the beginning by introducing the foundation of Professional Learning Communities, allowed staff the time and flexibility to collaborate and establish norms/routine and have continued to serve staff by offering district support, additional resources and curricular needs as teachers aim to reach all of our students. Dedicating the time and energy to the importance of PLC work has made a tremendous impact on our student growth and has fostered a school culture that is collaborative in nature.
Jason believes in the importance of shared leadership and consistently reaches out to teachers and community members to work together to fulfill our dedication to the students we serve. We believe Irving exists within a community and our community partners are important to our school. For example, twice a year Jason works with our Irving Middle School Parent, Teacher, Student Organization, the Irving Recreational Center and student group leaders (Student Coucil, Irving Ambassadors, Green Club, etc..), and the Lincoln Police Department to develop a Fall and Spring Festival for students, their families and the Irving neighborhood. The festivals include live, local music, food trucks, games, dancing and in turn reinforce the importance of community. These events have become Irving traditions and prove to be important to all of our stakeholders.
Jason facilitates several committees at Irving. School Improvement and the Irving Outreach Committee are two committees that Jason oversees and that continue to impact our students and our learning community. Jason values shared leadership. Committee members serving on the School Improvement Team regularly work with teachers to collect data, refine instructional strategies and present a variety of topics at staff meetings relating to our school goals. Additionally, the Irving Outreach Committee has continued to develop and grow in ambition and staff involvement. This group of servant leaders worked to bring a food market to families once a month and collectively develops different events to support students from a variety of backgrounds.
Jason's focus on research based instructional strategies and the implementation of Professional Learning Communities continues to impact student achievement at Irving Middle School. Through partnered collaboration between the School Improvement Committee and the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support Committee, we have developed strong, consistent systems at Irving that promote student engagement, academic progress and highlight the importance of positive feedback and restorative practices.
Before Jason became an administrator at Irving, the behavior management system that was in place did not meet the needs of our diverse student population. If students did not meet the behavior expectations within the classroom, they were sent out of class and were unable to return for the remainder of the class period and without a signed form from the students parent/guardian. Through data collection that included student perception surveys, grades and time out of class, Jason worked with both the MTSS-B and SIP committee to pilot a much needed systemic change that valued the importance of students remaining in the classroom, teaching students the academic and social skills needed to be successful in the classroom and provided teachers with different opportunities to continue to learn behavior management and engagement strategies. This change was monumental in terms of building relationships and building a school culture that values the importance of education for all students.
Jason is a strong leader within Lincoln Public Schools. He focuses on the strengths of others and helps all individuals to develop their strengths personally and professionally. Jason serves on several district committees that positively impact our staff, students and families. For example, Jason is a member of the Secondary Grading Committee, a representative on a Diversity Committee and continues to work with Student Services to work on school attendance practices & policies. Jason never hesitates to reach out to others if/when he has a question or needs to collaborate over any student or school matter.
Jason is a tremendous listener and truly does have an 'open door policy' for students, staff and parents/guardians alike. Our community trusts Jason and values his leadership. Jason exemplifies the picture of a true 'servant leader,' as every decision he makes is done so with the thoughtful intent of supporting and serving others. As a former coach, Jason continues to use these skills to encourage others and provides meaningful feedback to help us all be the best we can be.