New JHS Principal Jarrad Durham Talks Goals For 2019 & Beyond
Writer / Sarah Showalter, JHS Senior
You’ll find him observing in classrooms, interacting with students in the lunchroom and leading various meetings. He greets every student with a nod and, “How are you doing?” He guides his staff with humble leadership. He is Principal Jarrad Durham, and he came to Jeffersontown High School with a purpose.
Although Durham is new to J-town, he is certainly not without experience. Before coming to Jeffersontown in April of 2018, he worked in various positions from teaching social studies at Westport Middle, to being the assistant principal at Fern Creek High School. Right off the bat, the major difference he noticed in J-town was the size of the school. However, in the aspect of students, there was hardly a change.
Of course, it must be acknowledged that with a bigger school, comes more room for growth in the fields of academics and conduct. Durham never sweat it, though, he knows what every student wants from his or her school.
“Every student wants two things: they want to know they’re supported, but more importantly, that we provide the educational skills they need in order to get a career,” he says. “We want to make sure that every person has the opportunity for something, whether it be college, military or workforce when they walk out of here.”
It’s one thing to know what kids want, but it’s another to make that available for them. Durham is excellent at both. He is already getting in touch with companies such as Norton Healthcare, Ford and Lantech to equip students with job experience by the time they’re seniors.
His dreams don’t stop there. When he took the position as principal, there was a whiteboard full of things that needed to be improved or launched. When Durham took a look at this, all he saw was chaos. He simply snapped a picture of the ideas, then immediately erased it all.
How can you get anything done when a brainstorm of scribbles and abstract thoughts are looking over your shoulders, taunting you about when you’ll have time for them? Durham knew he and his team could not progress in a way that would be beneficial to the school with everyone scrambling to get these ideas finished. He figured out what the greatest concerns were and started with student safety. The first step taken to make the J-town campus more secure was a gate that wraps around one entire side of the school. This gate enables students to pass through different outdoor entrances, such as the gym or music department and to the main building. This gate also prevents an intruder from coming in.
Beyond the vision of security, Durham has a clear vision that engages every single student in the school. His primary goal for the school is to make progression in the field of technology. Many adults will look at technology and be intimidated because of the power it holds and the capabilities it has. Durham, however, embraces the power it comes with and sees the headway it has made so far, and wishes to continue that with each class that comes into JHS.
“I truly believe that every student should have access to a computer at some point during every class throughout the day,” he says.
The advances that the school is looking to make will greatly improve students’ engagement in the classroom. With the direct instruction that technology will enable, teachers will be able to give students exactly when they need, when they need it, regardless of other students’ level in the class. Durham’s vision for technology in the school will only aid the connection between student and knowledge.
Given that technological advances will help this relationship, the school must also look to the community for help. Like Durham mentioned, students want to know that a career is available for them when coming out of high school. This is why the community is constantly asking for new student employees. Durham’s key is communication, saying, “It’s a give and take relationship. We make sure we are communicating what we need, and at the same time, we are serving the needs of the community. We are raising up the next generation of workers.”