Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Feature: Jason Markey, Principal of East Leyden High School

Thank you for stopping by for the Feature Friday post. This is a new series dedicated to highlighting leaders, educators, and innovators. Today's feature is on Jason Markey, Principal of East Leyden High School. 

In Jason's current role as principal, he has created a culture of risk-taking, openness, and respect for student voice. He was a 2014 Digital Principal Award Winner and he's a Google Certified Teacher. Believing that we need to teach students how to use social media responsibly, he created a Digital Citizen Leadership team at his school, and he continues to set the bar high for all principals in the 21st century. You can follow the inspiring #leydenpride hashtag on twitter, and connect with Jason at @JasonMMarkey. His blog (and other school blogs) can be found at Mr. Markey's Office

1. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an FBI agent for along time, I also considered law after participating in a mock trial program in school.

2. What brings you the greatest joy?

Connecting with individual students. I promised myself that if I was going to be a school principal that I needed to stay in touch with the students, not only to inform my leadership, but ultimately to maintain the personal joy I gain from these relationships.

3. How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I struggle with this all of the time. My goal is everyday when I have time with my family to be as "present" as possible. For example, when we have dinner as a family, the phones are in the other room, the same with when I'm reading with my kids before bed. I might be sacrificing a twitter chat or two but that is ok!

4. What is the best advice you've been given?

The best advice I have received was from my former Superintendent Dr. Kathy Robbins. She led with kindness and forged meaningful and authentic relationships with every staff member in our district. That was extremely impactful for me to experience as a teacher at Leyden and I have challenged myself to try and live up to this standard.

5. What is a new skill you would like to learn?

I have long wanted to learn a new language and I'm hoping saying it publicly will be the push I need! Desearme suerte!

6. What’s on your bookshelf?

A few highlights: 
Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds For the Better by Clive Thompson, 
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown, 
Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Jonson, 
Insurgency by Kurth Schuett (East Leyden English Teacher!), 
Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden and Steve Jamison

7. What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?

That leadership is not just about building relationships, but being authentic and ensuring you maintain congruence in words and action. I once had a boss who had a great relationships with all of the employees until they would find out who his words did not match up with his actions.

8. What’s on your bucket list?

Travel to Japan and eat at Aronia de Takazawa.
Travel to Italy and eat at Osteria Francescana.
Fly a plane.

9. You just won the lottery. What one thing would you buy for yourself?

Round trip tickets to Tokyo and dinner at Aronia de Takazawa for myself and 7 of my closest friends.

10. What’s your favorite book?

Native Son

11. What is your number one productivity tip?

To use a standing desk with two displays. Having two screens and standing while working has really allowed me to be much more efficient with my time.

12. If you could have one super power, what would it be? 

To be able to solve the issue of poverty.

13. Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party?

Well, let's go with my lottery trip to Tokyo so eight people:
Eddie Vedder
Marissa Mayer
The Dalai Lama
Sir Ken Robinson
Mos Def
Shabana Basij-Rasikh
Jennie Magiera
1 #leydenpride student drawn at random (I can't pick possibly pick one!)

14. What would people be surprised to know about you?

I used to physically shake when I had to speak in front of people and had a speech impediment growing up that still rears its head every now and again.

15. What was your favorite class in college?

Organizational Psychology

16. What quote do you live by?

Currently - "Have a healthy disregard for the impossible." - Larry Page

All-time - "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

17. What is one thing you never, ever worry about?

The Cubs. I have come to accept they will disappoint me and will be pleasantly surprised one year when they win.

18. If you could swap places with someone from the past for one day, who would it be?

Lucy Stone

19. Who are your heroes?

Lucy Stone
Mahatma Gandhi
Martin Luther King Jr.
Our kids

20. What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

How to be a better teacher. I don't believe I was the best teacher I could be. I was still learning from my own practice and not sharing and learning from others as much as I should have. I can see how learning from others has helped me so much as a principal and I wish I would have made greater strides to do the same as a teacher. When I got back to the classroom someday I will be better!

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