July 2011

As some readers may know, I am in the process of seeking new employment for 2012 and beyond.  I am deeply devoted to the community of St. Gregory College Prep, and fiercely proud of what we do there.  It is hard to leave, but at the same time, I am excited about the next great opportunity to serve a school and advance 21st century learning for our students.

I am not narrow-minded in my career thinking.  Many different types of positions hold interest for me, they only need be reasonably well aligned with my passion and philosophy: advancing learning for students, especially but not exclusively secondary students, which is active and engaging, meaningful, rigorous, preparatory for our fast-changing world, digitally empowered, networked, and globally-minded.

I welcome readers to suggest to me, or suggest me to, interesting opportunities which you think might suit my interests and goals.  (On my bio page, readers can find more about me, including a current c.v.)

Among the requirements for most positions is that candidates provide a statement of educational philosophy, and I have recently updated a statement I originally prepared more than a decade ago.   I’m sharing it here, and would appreciate any feedback and suggestions for improvement readers might be willing and able to provide.  You can use the comment box, and you can always email me at jonathanemartin@gmail.com.  Thanks.


Statement of Educational Philosophy

June, 2011

Janus-faced we must be as educators.  Looking backwards, we preserve and perpetuate the best thoughts of human civilization and the best of our institution’s traditions; looking forward, we confront our fast-changing times, draw upon contemporary tools, and prepare our students for success in careers which don’t yet exist.

Independent schools have a long and great legacy, and it is the work of all of us who love them and care for them to both carry forward that tradition while also continuing to innovate to meet the educational demands of the new century.  Art Powell, in his book Lessons from Privilege: the American Prep School Tradition, writes that the independent school tradition has long accomplished excellence with a simple formula, which will likely serve students well for centuries: “A demanding curriculum designed for all [combined] with personal attention within small scale environments.”

At the same time, schools which are not “of the future” will not be, as NAIS President Pat Bassett says, schools “in the future.” (more…)

[cross-posted from Connected Principals]

Jen ratio: the total positive interactions among people in a shared environment divided by the negative interactions; a measurement of the social well being of any shared environment.  (Dacher Keltner, What’s your Jen ratio?).

Promoting positive and supportive school cultures and environments is among the very highest of our priorities as principals and school leaders.  We all believe strongly that a happy and safe school is a prerequisite for learning, and we recognize that this is characterized by positive social interactions that lift our moods and enhance our joy and motivation for learning.

Jane McGonigal‘s excellent and inspiring new book, Reality is Broken,  delves into the intersection of positive psychology (the happiness movement) and gaming, and offers many ways we can consider bring gaming into reality and improve it.

In one of the book’s many sections I know will be fascinating and compelling for educators and “connected principals,” a chapter entitled  Happiness Hacking,”  she writes about “transitory public sociality,” and for this reader it spoke directly to our goal for our schools to be positive places of support, encouragement, and good will.

We experience it in all kinds of public places: sidewalks, parks, trains, restaurants, for example.  These transitory social interactions, when they happen, are usually brief and anonymous: we catch another’s eyes, we smile, we make room for someone else, we pick up something someone has dropped, we go on our own way.  But these brief encounters, taken cumulatively, have an aggregate impact on our mood over time. (more…)

John Maeda is President of RISD.   His new (2011) book proclaims to be Redesigning Leadership: Design, Technology, Business, Life, but the narrative tone is far different from that grand title.

Shortly after his appointment he became quickly recognized and admired as the leading tweeting, blogging and social media proficient college or university president, and then, just as quickly, got a painful comeuppance when his faculty voted a heavy no-confidence vote in him and his presidency nearly foundered.  One has to wonder whether the book was commissioned and titled before his difficulties, and written or completed after them, such that halfway through its development Maeda’s confidence in his ability to genuinely “redesign leadership” was dramatically altered.  Indeed, at times this is almost a painful read: Maeda seems to be paying public penance for his mistakes, and we the readers are uncomfortable witnesses to it.

Ever since I’ve become President, people often approach me and ask, How are you doing?  My answer is generally a simple but honest, I’m learning.  Then comes the inevitable moment of confusion, as they were expecting the usual upbeat perspective of a CEO.  They say something like, Oh, it’s that bad?  The exchange forces me to clarify how excited I am to be a leader right now because I love to learn.  There is nothing I’d rather be doing than learning.  It often isn’t easy and I’ve made mistakes. (more…)

I’m very pleased to report that our major solar panel installation is well underway (Click here for the press release with all the details).

This is a 140 Kw project, entailing more than 600 panels on six of our major buildings which we have undertaken in a partnership with a Tucson company, Solar H20.   This is an all-Tucson project: the partner utility company is Tucson Electric Power (TEP); the solar panels are manufactured not in China or overseas but right here in Tucson (though by a German company, Solon), and even the racks are manufactured here in town.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by KUAT, Arizona Public Media, for a television news report they are preparing for their weekly television “newsmagazine” show, Arizona Illustrated, about this project. It is my hope and intent to be able to share that news report here soon.

I was asked two main questions, and I thought I would do my best to share and replicate my answers here (in fairness, these written answers are a bit expanded).

Q: Why is St. Gregory undertaking this project? 

A: It has been a high priority of my leadership to embark on alternative energy support for our school, and to not go solar in this Southern Arizona sun seems foolish.   Rick Belding, our business manager, and I had been discussing and seeking opportunities to make this go, (including multiple conversations with Tucson’s Solar energy project manager, Bruce Tunze), when we were approached by a new company, Solar H20, which was ready to seize on certain incentives available from both our local utility, TEP, and the federal government.  After a very thorough review of the contract by Rick Belding, we were ready to commit.

This is a win-win-win project. (more…)