University School of Jackson

Head of School Blog

Headnotes: Reality on the Front Lines

09/29/2021

We live in divisive times, and there are many issues and forces at play that amplify these divisions. Unfortunately, it is often easy to allow ourselves to get caught up and taken for a ride via our mass culture, as we are exposed daily to the dull discourse and predictable talking points that media outlets, political interest groups, and Facebook provide. Beneath the banal banter of our media, daily crime reports, and political infighting, however, real accomplishment occurs that often gets overlooked.   Daily life in the real world consists of worthwhile work that brings tangible results to people&rsquo Read More

Headnotes: Mission

09/01/2021

September 1, 2021   Greetings USJ Families,   We strive for intentionality in being a mission-based institution. At almost every meeting and professional development session, the idea of mission is mentioned and questions are raised about how the issue we are addressing applies to our mission as a school. These conversations often make reference to the “three pillars” of the USJ mission:   “We instill a passion for academic, artistic, and athletic excellence while committing to personal integrity, mutual respect, and lifelong learning.”   When we mention the pillars, we are referencing the Read More

Headnotes: 3 Words, 3 Truths, 3 Pieces of Advice

05/18/2021

Class of 2021 Commencement Address   3 Words, 3 Truths, 3 Pieces of Advice   3 Words:   University...School...Jackson   I have a tremendous affinity for them separately, as well as when combined as one.   University: Latin for a community of teachers and scholars. Having been around for a thousand years, the university has grown thousands of minds by advancing inquiry, research, freedom of thought, and rigor.   School: I love every component of it - history lectures, recess, science labs, spelling bees, soccer practices, study halls, hot rolls from the cafeteria, musical productions, and even homework! I started at four years Read More

Headnotes: Tested

04/06/2021

Headnotes: Tested A few years ago, a friend and I planned to run a half marathon. We set goals, trained accordingly, and were ready to go on race day. On that cool, perfect for running April morning, we came out of the chute faster than usual and were “banking” time and feeling great, strengthened by the wind at our collective backs. As we hit mile six, still rolling and way ahead of our goal pace, I had a sense things may be going just a little too perfectly. I shared what would turn out to be an apt Read More

Headnotes: Tuition Truths

03/02/2021

Tuition Truths I will admit I enjoyed reading the responses from our recent surveys, as it felt great to read parents rave about our committed and caring faculty, the school's response to Covid-19, and the improvements being made to the campus and the USJ experience. And while I don't particularly enjoy pain, I am always open to improvement personally and professionally, and I know that I, in my fiftieth year, and USJ, in its fifty-first, remain works in progress. Thus the critical comments were welcomed as well. One common concern raised about our school was the price tag. Read More

Headnotes: Fundamentals

11/02/2020

  November 2, 2020   Greetings USJ Families,   Did I mention that I love baseball? As a student and teacher of American history, I appreciate it as a quintessentially American invention and activity. I really appreciate this Gerald Early quote:   "There are only three things that America will be remembered for 2000 years from now when they study this civilization: The Constitution, Jazz music, and Baseball. These are the three most beautiful things this culture's ever created."   Baseball is traditional. It brings back so many memories as it has been such a constant in my life. My friendships, family Read More

Headnotes: The Bruin Walk

10/01/2020

   The Bruin Walk   For those who proudly wear the Red and Columbia Blue, this path isn’t just special but treasured. It stands as a symbol of accomplishment. Emblematic of success. This leads to an important, if not existential question: Just how is this success defined?   We at USJ often speak of it. Of whom we are and aspire to be. We proudly (and rightfully) affirm the accomplishments of merit scholars, state champions, celebrate the elusive 4.0, or the ultimate score of 5 on the AP exam. Even as adults, we define our own measures of accomplishment: Read More

Headnotes: Day One of the Pandemic

09/01/2020

September 1, 2020   Dear USJ Family,   Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, established a philosophy that has become legendary in the business world. He believes and teaches that successful businesses stay in Day 1 mode; the idea being that start-ups are hungry, think creatively, and outwork older, Day 2, operations who live in the static world of complacency. In spite of any criticisms Bezos may deserve, there is undoubtedly merit in this mindset. Major issues tend to grow as soon as one believes he has “arrived,” and we can all benefit from an attitude of constant improvement and daily seeking Read More

Our Daily Commitment to Health, Safety, and Families

08/03/2020

Our Daily Commitment to Health, Safety, and Families   I am a huge proponent of consistency. If one wants to be successful academically, the key is not about rising to the occasion on the day of the ACT but about meaningful time in the books today. A happy marriage does not hinge on a romantic getaway, but on a regular evening strolls. Success under Friday night lights results from challenging afternoon practices and early morning lifts. As a lifelong educator, I believe that great teaching is not measured by the latest program but by the level of student engagement during Read More

Headnotes: The Heart of Decision-Making

07/13/2020

  July 13, 2020   The mission. We all should know it…   “We instill a passion for academic, artistic, and athletic excellence, while committing to personal integrity, mutual respect, and lifelong learning.”   At the heart of this mission lies one objective: growing people. This frames everything we do. The Head of School must grow. Our Board of Trustees, administrative team and faculty are all dedicated to improvement, and we are all committed to growing our students. We are works in progress, and in order to better serve, we need to learn.   Therefore, every decision we make Read More

Headnotes - From the Office of Don Roe

06/22/2020

  Greetings USJ Families,  While our leadership team has recently been focusing on the challenges of ending the spring semester, recognizing the accomplishments of our students, and now starting school in the fall, I feel I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to share and to challenge our school community in the wake of recent national events that, no doubt, also impact us as a school family.    Our nation has experienced trying times through the COVID-19 pandemic, the accompanying social and economic stresses, and now we have been moved by accounts of racial Read More

USJ Board of Trustees Announces Don Roe as the New Head of School

12/17/2019

It is with great excitement that the USJ Board of Trustees announces Don Roe as the next Head of School.   A lifelong West Tennessean, Don has been a part of the USJ community since July 2012 when he was hired as chair of the History Department where he also taught a popular AP US History Class.  Over the next few years, Don spread roots at USJ as he became the “Voice of the Bruins” for both football and basketball, starred in a school theater production, chaired a strategic planning committee, and led the school’s most Read More

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