When students return to Clarke N. Johnsen Junior High next Tuesday for the first day of school, they will be greeted by Tooele County School District’s 2014 “Administrator of the Year” — Jared Small.
Clarke Johnsen’s principal was awarded the honor last May for his excellent leadership as evident in the school’s academic record and his positive relationship with staff and parents, according to Scott Rogers, Tooele County School District superintendent.
Growing up in Shelley, Idaho, Small had several teachers that helped him succeed in school. They served as role models and he credited their example with his decision to make education his profession.
“I struggled in school,” he said. “I was not the best student, but I had a couple of teachers that made the extra effort to help me.”
After high school graduation, Small attended Southern Utah University in Cedar City and graduated in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health.
His first teaching job was at Bonneville Junior High in the Granite School District. Small taught physical education and health. He also coached basketball, wrestling, track, golf, and volleyball.
While teaching, Small completed a master’s degree in teaching from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona in 2004.
He also moved to Tooele in 2004 to teach physical education and health at Tooele Junior High School.
With administrative credentials completed in 2006, Small was appointed assistant principal of Tooele Junior High.
After two years as assistant principal there, Small was appointed assistant principal at Tooele High School, a position he held for three years before moving to Clarke Johnsen to take over as principal.
“I went into administration because I wanted to contribute more to education,” he said. “I wanted to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. As an administrator, I get to help both students and teachers.”
Small believes in leading by example.
“Example is the best way to teach others,” he said. “I see my role as providing teachers with what they need so they can be successful at helping students to learn.”
As a principal, Small works on a 12 month contract. During summer he catches up on annual administrative duties. The student handbook, building policies and procedures, and safety guidelines all need to be reviewed and updated annually.
Summer is also a time for conferences and trainings that sharpen leadership skills and introduce new ideas, according to Small.
“Summer is a good time to network with administrators of other schools and share ideas and best practices,” he added.
As the new school year approaches, Small works closely with the school’s custodian to make sure the facility is ready for students and teachers.
He also has to orient new teachers during the summer. Small said this week he will visit with every teacher in their classroom to discuss their plans and needs for the upcoming year.
This year Clarke Johnsen teachers will initiate a new math and science lab designed to help struggling students.
Small is also looking forward to making teacher collaboration time, known as professional learning community or PLC time, more useful at driving increased student performance as measured by benchmark test scores.
“A good school needs quality instruction,” he said. “But you also have to make it fun.”
When not at school, Small enjoys time hiking in Utah’s mountains, shooting basketball with his children, or camping with his family.
“As a former P.E. teacher, I try to stay physically active,” he said.
After 14 years in education, as a classroom teacher and administrator, one of the things that keeps Small going is watching both students and teachers reach new levels of knowledge.
“I really enjoy it when a student is struggling to understand something, and then they get that ‘A-ha’ moment when everything comes together and makes sense,” he said. “The same thing is true with teachers when you see them understand why we do things a certain way and they also go ‘A- ha.’”