Baker High School graduate Jay Townsend, class of 1998, has been chosen as North Dakota High School Principal of the Year. He is the son of Jerry and Jan Townsend of Baker.
By Sherry Vogel
After graduating from Baker High School, Townsend went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in physical education and business education from Dickinson State University in May 2003. From 2003-2006, he taught both in Froid and Medicine Lake, then he accepted a job at the Fairmount, North Dakota Public School, again teaching physical education and business ed.
During this same time, he attended Tri-College and completed his master’s degree in education leadership in 2008. That same school year he accepted the position of principal for the Fairmount Public School District.
Townsend, who loves his job, doesn’t feel like it is work. He said he is honored by the award and is a little shocked that he received his prestigious award. When the announcement was made, he received a standing ovation from his enthusiastic students.
“The school culture is great here and the staff and kids are awesome. This (award) is a direct reflection of them,” Townsend said. He added, “There is a noticeable family atmosphere at Fairmount Public Schools. This atmosphere is something that works well.” Townsend has been able to establish strong relationships at the school. “You can develop relationships here. I mean, I know their parents, I know their grandparents. I know a lot about the students so that makes the connection special.” When he was asked to describe Fairmount School he said, “I use the word family quite a bit to describe it – togetherness, caring, loving.”
The High School Principal of the Year program annually recognizes outstanding school leaders who have succeeded in providing quality learning opportunities for students. The honorees are selected based on their willingness to take risks to improve student learning, their anticipation of emerging problems and acting in effective ways to resolve them while working collaboratively with teachers and community.
As North Dakota’s High School Principal of the Year, Townsend will be honored at NASSP’s Principals’ Institute this fall in Washington, D.C. This symposium gives all selected state principals of the year the opportunity to learn from each other, as well as from national leaders in education.
Jay and his wife Rikki live in Wahpeton, ND with their children Lilybeth and Jerrick. In closing, Townsend said, “I look forward to many more years as an educational leader and having the opportunity to influence lives each and every day.”