New Principal

Jason Chandler can’t wait to see the halls of Dinwiddie Middle School filled with students.
Chandler, who started his educational journey in Prince George after switching careers, was hired a month and a half ago to be the new principal of Dinwiddie Middle School, a challenge he says he’s ready to face.
Chandler didn’t start out his post-college career in education, however. After graduating from Longwood University with a degree in Sports Medicine, then working in that field, he was approached to teach at L.C. Byrd High School and Hopewell High School, and immediately fell in love with the educational process.
“I enjoyed the daily interactions,” Chandler said. “I got a provisional license, taught for 10 years, but about five years ago I thought I could make a bigger impact if I were an administrator. I think having the passion to impact a large number of students is what really pulled me out of the classroom.”
Chandler then obtained a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and got a job as an Assistant Principal in the Franklin School Division. He was then made Principal of S.P. Morton Elementary School before getting the position he currently occupies.
Chandler is walking into a situation he knows presents him with a myriad of challenges. The school is not accredited, with Standards of Learning test scores having fallen below the required levels, but Chandler said he’s already put a plan into addressing the SOL issues.
His approach, he said, will be a three-pronged approach designed to bring up the scores and improve the educational experience at Dinwiddie Middle School.
First, he’s going to bring about higher quality instruction, in line with both the content and the “cognition.”
The second prong is consistency of operations, Chandler said. This involves an organized management perspective, and ensuring operations at the school are efficient and consistent.
The third prong in the attack is building relationships with the community, the staff and the students.
“We need the support and encouragement from the community,” Chandler said.
Chander has begun building those relationships by going out and having home visits with students and parents, getting out the message that positive things are going on at Dinwiddie Middle School.
Building relationships with the staff and students is also important, Chandler said.
“Students learn best from teachers they like,” Chandler said. “Whenever anybody thinks of their favorite teacher, it’s someone they like. If we get to know the students on a personal level and reach out to them it will build a personal relationship and be more successful.”
Going from an elementary school to a middle school environment presents its own set of challenges, since communication is natural for elementary school kids but not necessarily for middle schoolers. Keeping communication lines open, Chandler said, is one of the central keys to improving the educational experience at the school.
The home visits, Chandler said, were a way to open those channels and build those bridges, and he said he’s looking to keep his door open for parents and students in order to continue to move forward.
Chandler said he’s very impressed with the staff at the Middle School and can’t wait for orientation meetings and the start of school.
“I’m extremely eager,” Chandler said. “I’m excited, and we have a great staff. We’re going to do great things at Dinwiddie Middle School this year.”

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