By Teresa L. Benns
CENTER — When former Principal Sarah Vance left her position recently to accept a new job at the Colorado Department of Education, Center Schools was fortunate enough to already have her replacement in the wings waiting and ready to serve elementary students at the school.
Jared Morgan previously was a middle school and high school counselor. He received his teaching degree from Adams State University and earned a master’s degree in counseling and education leadership. Morgan says he feels his counseling background makes him more well-grounded to deal with the social and emotional aspect of his new position.
In his biography, Morgan states he also was a middle school and high school Spanish teacher for 14 years before receiving his counseling credentials.
Morgan is married and the father of four children, ages 16, 15, 13 and 11. “They are wonderful even though they have given me a couple of gray hairs,” he wrote in his biography for the school. “I am excited about working with the awesome students and parents from our great community.”
His vision, Morgan said, is to “build a collaborative relationship with the community where parents feel empowered” to take an active part in the education process. The goal, he says, is to work together with parents and students to help students achieve success in their education.
In addition to working with the curriculum, Morgan plans to enhance the parent engagement program at the school (PICS) and perhaps include more home visits.
He feels his time as a missionary in Guadalajara, Mexico will greatly assist him in understanding the bigger picture, especially with some students, allowing him to better relate with them on their own level. He says, however, he still has “lots to learn.”
“I really enjoyed my time as a missionary,” he commented. “It helped me understand that the elementary years are the most crucial time for education. [Students] start to develop a love for learning and that’s the time when they can feel successful academically.”
Morgan says he has met almost all the elementary teachers at Haskin and says he is amazed at their high level of teaching and their professionalism. “Center school is really innovative in education and this is known across the Valley,” he said.
One of Morgan’s intended projects for the school is the increased use of the restorative justice system for juveniles, overseen by the courts. It has been successful in both the middle school and high school, he pointed out and should have similar success at the elementary level.
“Restorative justice supports students in good decision making and accepting responsibility,” Morgan explained. It encourages “working towards a solution that is not punitive in nature and helps kids grow socially.”
The punitive consequences do not go away altogether, he pointed out, but the entire process helps students reflect on what they did and why they did it, plus they receive input from their peers. He calls it a “higher level of problem solving” and says when students can all sit down in a circle and better understand and emphasize with the student, to figure out how they went wrong.
“It’s a good opportunity to grow,” Morgan said, and Superintendent Chris Vance added that it is also good for “facilitating instruction.”
Vance also mentioned he will be looking forward to this coming school year when Center Schools will be celebrating its 100th birthday “all year long.” Festivities will begin when school resumes in September, he said.
Morgan said he will be looking forward to the centennial celebration and all the other opportunities available to him at Center schools. Morgan and Vance both agreed there is “something here that is not anywhere else— an all-encompassing feeling of acceptance and goodness, like high school students looking out for younger kids. Parents are raising them right.”