The transition should be smooth.
As of July 1, Shepherdsville Elementary School Assistant Principal Jason Baragary can officially drop the word ‘assistant’ from his title.
“Honestly, I was taken aback by how fortunate I am to be given the opportunity to lead Shepherdsville,” he said. “When I applied for the position, the possibility of becoming the next principal felt very far away. So to actually go through this process and be offered the position really just makes me consider how lucky I am to have ended up at Shepherdsville when I did.”
Baragary said he will always be grateful to former Principal Patrick Durham for putting his faith and trust in him.
“About 18 months ago, Mr. Durham and the SES family took a chance on someone with no administrative experience and immediately made me feel welcome,” he said. “During my time at SES, we as a school have made significant progress in supporting our students. The reason why I applied is because I want SES to achieve that next level of success as a school and I believe my experience at SES has given me firsthand knowledge in understanding what we need to do to get there. I am also very fortunate that SES is a good fit for me personally. I love our students, appreciate the care and support our staff provides, and feel that we've put in the work to provide an environment where our students can succeed.”
Gaining experience about leadership and the SES community, Baragary said Durham helped put him in a position where he feels ready to accept the challenges that come with being a principal.
“Mr. Durham made it a priority to help me grow professionally,” Baragary said. “Many of the decisions we made as a school were decisions that came from shared dialogue about what our school needed. So, in this case, my experience is very relevant to the needs of SES which will help determine our path moving forward.”
Building on work already accomplished as a school, Baragary wants to continue that objective from an instructional standpoint and a cultural standpoint.
“Our staff is doing the right work and, as a result, we’ve made progress as a school. I want us to continue to enhance and build upon that work,” he said.
Farther down the road, Baragary feels the need to consider the barriers SES students face and work to eliminate them or provide the support students need to overcome them.
“As both a short and long term goal, I want us to have a pointed focus on helping our students apply the learning they do to the real world so they understand why it matters,” he said.
In his experience as an educator, Baragary said one aspect that has changed is the number of different roles aside from being a student’s teacher.
“This was always true to varying degrees but I do think the need has become more pronounced over time,” he affirmed. “Many students come to us with so many different needs, and because good teachers know the importance of relationships and that for students to learn, their basic needs have to be met; they take on those roles willingly.”
The inherent challenge is it requires teachers to be many different things for many different students, which again, good teachers willingly do.
“In education, we need to really consider how we teach the whole child, specifically from a social and emotional standpoint, and what that means in terms of how we allocate resources,” Baragary said. “I think we are heading in that direction, but having dedicated efforts aimed at providing those social and emotional needs is only going to become more important in the future.”
Anyone who picks a career in education had some kind of influence.
Baragary said he has been fortunate to have a number of people in his corner growing up whether it was family or teachers.
“What I realized as I got older is that not everyone has that same luxury,” he said. “I have worked very hard in my life but part of my success comes from the lack of barriers I had growing up and always having a positive example off of which to model myself. I decided to get into education in large part because I wanted to be that advocate for students no matter their background or circumstances and allow them the opportunities that I had as a student.”
If an individual wants to be a veterinarian, a love of animals is essential. An architect must be devoted to mathematics and blueprints. A baker has to respect the various ingredients that go into a delicious dish.
There is a single essential elementary to make a difference as an educator.
“You have to love your students no matter their circumstances, truly believe they are capable of success, AND know how to show students you love them and believe they are capable of success,” Baragary said. “Actions speak louder than words and students will know if you do not mean it. You cannot control some of the barriers students may have, but you can work to eliminate them.”
Baragary did his undergraduate work at Iowa State University. He has a Masters in Teaching and Ed.S from the University of Louisville.
Before joining SES, he worked 7.5 years at The Robert Frost Sixth-Grade Academy.