Thomas Jefferson once stated, “I find that the harder I work the more luck I seem to have.” This is a personal favorite quote of Jason A. Andrews and it gives an idea of the life he has lived to this point. His character and work ethic can best be represented by his current position as the youngest Superintendent of Schools in
Growing up on a farm in
Jason’s history in the field of education begins with his election to the Harpursville School Board at the tail end of his senior year in high school. Eventually, he became vice president of the board and then president, a tenure that lasted from 1993-2001. He resigned before taking a job as Principal in the
In terms of Jason’s education, he attended the State University of New York at
After graduating Jason applied to a couple of school districts, but was initially content with the living he was making working his various other jobs. One particular school’s interview has stuck with him since the day it happened. First, he literally had his Huff Ice Cream shirt and tie on with a suit coat over it, but this was not the most memorable part of this experience. Rather, it was something he learned about dealing with people by the actions of the principal, who later became a superintendent, that was conducting the interview.
Much of what the interviewers talked about was how fortunate Jason was to be interviewed because of the large pool of 178 applicants. The big issue was because he grew up on a dairy farm and if this might prevent him from being able to relate to the kids in this city school district. It was an unnecessary stigma about his background that limited the interviewers from seeing his potential. In fact, the principal that interviewed him was disengaged the whole time, often looking out the window. Jason was asked to come back for a final interview offered to only two other candidates, but he declined. This was a big risk because he was only twenty one years old, but he “knew that he would not be successful there.” He said, “I go back to that story often.” To him it is not only about interviewing, but it is about dealing with parents, staff, and people in general. “It is the whole idea of being present,” he declared. In his own dealings, he really focuses on giving his whole self to who he is interacting with.
Eventually, Jason landed a job as a part time Social Studies teacher in the
After a brief tenure as Principal of Harpursville Middle School, he took a position as the Principal of Windsor’s Middle School. This was a school that needed some change and fortunately, was ready for it. It was “extremely challenging, but very rewarding,” Andrews said. He had to discipline faculty in an effort to bring up student test scores. The results were evident as the Middle School’s student body moved from the bottom three in the region to the top two in test scores. His success at this level helped land him his current position in the school district. Although he was apprehensive about applying for the Superintendent spot, he was again inspired by some of his associates and he was rewarded with a slice of Thomas Jefferson's “luck.” His hard work had indeed paid off.
As Superintendent, Jason handles a $29 million budget and manages 213 Instructional and 183 Non-Instructional Staff. He administers district policies and procedures, collaborates with the Board of Education and Staff to develop Strategic Planning, and maintains relations and communication with the school community. The job he has done since landing the position in January of 2006 has been tremendous in respect to the adversity he has had to deal with. In his first summer, much of the area he resides in was flooded terribly. As a result, his schools suffered millions of dollars in damage. He has successfully negotiated with FEMA and SEMO to get funding for many of these losses. Furthermore, he has been able to get other building plans designed and approved quickly to boost the efficiency and aesthetics of the four school buildings in the district.
While taking care of many of these behind the scenes things, he can often be found visiting the various schools he operates. In fact, he makes an effort to visit them all at least once a week. With the geographic size of the district, this is quite a task. Often times he can be found as a “mystery reader” in the Elementary Schools or just checking in with administration and instructional staff. His sense of humor and personality instills trust and has created a more enjoyable place to work.
This positive influence reflects his leadership style. He is constantly thinking positive and one of his favorite tools to use is “self-deprecating humor.” He claims, “First of all, it is funny, but it is also good to build report with people. It loosens people up and makes them more trusting.” All of this lies in Jason’s fundamental belief that you should not take yourself too seriously. Reflecting on his style and this belief he stated, “People who take themselves too seriously will still be laughed at, but it is not with them, it is after they leave.” He quipped, “I’d rather not take myself seriously and come up with the joke, ‘Thank you very much.’”
Besides his sense of humor, Jason also considers his strengths to be his work ethic, his honesty, and his ability to articulate his vision. Honesty and integrity are qualities that were instilled in him by his grandfather through the life lessons he taught Jason. Andrews remarked, his grandfather would always say, “His name is the most valuable asset he has.” Therefore, he would always steer clear of doing things that may tarnish it. Jason’s honesty is sometimes “a little too blunt,” he claims, but it is important for him to deliberate whether people are helping achieve the vision or are in the way. He says that he puts it in a way that is very clear for them so they know where he stands.
Jason claims that one of his weaknesses is his impatience. “I am more of a too little, too late guy than a too much, too fast one,” he claims. In this industry it is a challenge because of the inherent bureaucracy and people’s resistance to change. He is working on being more tolerant of these two key impediments though. Meanwhile, a pet peeve of Jason's is the attitude the public often takes towards jobs in the public sector. He says, "It can be annoying when people come in with the attitude that I work for them, rather than stating how I can help them." Other things that bother Jason are laziness and negativity. Unfortunately, these are both things that can be found in about any workplace.
In terms of Jason’s personal life, family is extremely important to him. His grandparents influence was significant and his friendship with his parents has also been a constant. He has a lovely wife and one young son who he spends as much time with as possible. In fact, one of the most difficult things for him is the guilt he carries knowing that he may not see his son at all some days. “I am gone before he wakes up, and he is asleep before I get home,” he reflected. In the office at six in the morning and home sometimes after eight at night “wears on him” emotionally. He has managed well though and is thankful for all the things he has been blessed with. On this thought, when at home, he says, “I try to only be at home.” It reflects on the principle of being present which he puts much value in.
Now, it is important to discuss the little things that make Jason who he is. His favorite movie is "Shawshank Redemption," he loves watching the Yankees, and he enjoys playing basketball, although he is not “athletically gifted by any stretch.” When asked about his favorite food, he joked, “Apparently, I am not very choosy,” while he rubbed his belly. He compared himself to
He is also involved in countless organizations across the state and nation including; the American Association of School Administrators, New York State Council of School Superintendents, Broome – Tioga Association for Chief School Officers, the Windsor Lion’s Club, 4-H club, and countless others. School leadership activities have interested him throughout his career as well, including recent roles on the Executive Board for the National Association of Student Councils and a previous tenure on the Executive Board of the New York State Council on Leadership and Student Activities. Both were rewarding experiences he claimed.
He reads a great deal but not too many books. “They overwhelm him,” he says. In his role, technical journals and current events are the essentials so his reading primarily revolves around these things. He is not a big leisure reader so instead he delves mostly in things that deal with his professional life. Currently, he is enjoying Michael Gurian’s, Wonder of Boys; a book about the learning style of boys and how the current educational system does not always provide them with what they need.
Overall, Jason Andrews is in love with what he does. “If you’re not laughing and having a good time, then don’t be there,” he claims. This positive attitude and fun loving style has made Jason easy to work with and follow. His work ethic is one of an old farm boy with good values instilled by a loving, hard working family. This self proclaimed, “Handsome or svelte” man, is not only hilarious and fun to be around and work with, but a model of Thomas Jefferson’s quote in action. It seems that no matter what Jason decides to do with his future, he will find success because he will enjoy it and work hard at it. Right now, that is successfully managing the
Jason A. Andrews
Superintendent of Schools
Windsor CSD Website: