He’s ready for first day of school
Nick Jurrens is very eager to get a new school year started at United South Central. He is the new elementary school principal and brings a multitude of experiences to the table for his new district.
Jurrens grew up and graduated high school from the Kasson-Mantorville area in 1998. He and his wife, Kelly, along with their five boys, Jack (13), Owen (11), Sam (9), Greyson (2), and Knox (3 months) just recently built a family home in the Kasson countryside.
The outdoor enthusiast earned his elementary education degree and teaching license from Winona State in 2003 and went on to receive his Masters of Education degree from Winona State in 2008. He went on to get his K-12 licensure while teaching and coaching three different sports in the spring of 2015 from Winona State as well.
Jurrens says he is very eager to get to know more of the community in the USC District, and is preparing for a new school year. He says he appreciates the strong tradition he has already noted from the community of valuing education, relationships and pride in the USC District community.
“You can tell that the school is a hub of the community, and that is great to see,” he says. “When you have a community which backs the school district and strongly supports its programs, you know you have the basis of a great community. In my experience, not every district is like that, not every community is like that and it’s very encouraging to see it here at USC.”
The elementary school principal says he has already met so many staff and faculty members from the USC District and feels very welcomed.
“I’ve had teachers and staff members already pop into my office to introduce themselves, and it is a great welcoming feeling,” says Jurrens.
This educator’s philosophy is teaching students to be good people first.
“My educational belief system is that if we as a school, as staff, as families, and as a community really value teaching our kids how to be good people first instilling character traits from our Rebel Rights of being safe, being respectful, being responsible, as well as other character traits like empathy, honesty, perseverance if we can instill those things in our children and have them learn those things early, success for them academically, behaviorally, socially and emotionally is a product of having those character traits,” says Jurrens. “I’m big on developing relationships with students, staff, families and trying to teach the importance of possessing those traits and putting them into practice.”
Jurrens says when the state’s focus on schools is based on academic scores and behavioral data, that is how people outside of the USC?walls judge the school and its success.
“To me, our data, when it comes to those things, is a product of what we did to build relationships with our students and teach them how to be good, productive young people,” he says. “At the end of the day, when they graduate from this school whether they go onto a career path or technical school go to a four-year college or anywhere in between we want them to know those traits. If you have those strong character traits, you’re going to be good at no matter what you do.”
To help with building those character traits, Jurrens says it is important for parents to know that they are in partnership with the school by finding success for their child.
“Success, to me, is improvement and growth, and we measure that success by that growth,” he says. “If we have a student who has 18 behavioral referrals one year, and seven the next year that’s growth, and that is success that can be measured. Success is different for every student.”
Jurrens says he has a collaborative leadership style. He works diligently to understand everyone’s perspective and be an active listener.
“A lot of people want to be heard and validated. That’s a huge thing and when we can truly hear what our students and parents are saying, we can focus on student goals together,” says Jurrens.
As Jurrens adapts to a new school, elementary students will be adapting to a new reading curriculum, which Jurrens says he is very excited about.
“I have not been a part of a new curriculum since 2009, and it is wonderful to see the administration’s support of this new curriculum,” he says. “It shows our community and administration are committed to updating our education for the district. And reading is huge it is a giant base for all other means of education. When our young students get older, and start taking classes like social studies, history, those types of classes, reading is essential. It is very exciting to see this dedication to their future.”
With new curriculum, or new staff, there is always a bit of change change that may make some uncomfortable, but Jurrens has a strong approach when it comes to new changes.
“I’m about change for the sake of improvement, not change for the sake of change,” he says. “However, we can’t improve without change, but it needs to be intentional change, and I think that’s exactly what we are doing with this new curriculum.”
Jurrens says he hopes to be a positive sounding board for the students, families, and staff that he will be working with directly.
“I am eager to learn from the staff’s expectations of me, and understand further some areas for improvement at USC. I hope to see a collective growth and trust as we go through my first year at the school,” Jurrens says. “I work hard to listen and work with committees and teams on the staff so they know that we are doing this together, not just the administration.”
Throughout the month of August, Jurrens has encouraged his incoming staff to come to his office and meet with him before the new school year begins not only to build a bit better rapport with his new staff members, but to focus on intentional goals for the year. An orientation day for elementary students is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 3, with the first day of school beginning Wednesday, Sept. 4. Families should receive their information packets in the mail.
One thing is certain, Jurrens is ready for the school year, even if it is only August.