Portage High School has seen some new faces this year, with one being Brian Jones, the school’s new assistant principal.
Jones came to Portage from Crown Point, where he worked for five years. Before that, Jones taught at Lake Central for five years, where he taught every grade, K-12. At these schools, Jones had the opportunity to coach varsity wrestling for four years, football for nine, and track for two.
Jones stated he is very happy with his move and is very grateful for the opportunity.
“Although some days seem chaotic, I can honestly state that I have never gone home and said that I had a ‘bad day.’”
Jones and his wife are licensed foster parents in Lake County and have helped children in foster care for the past six years, and have also started a program for the kids called Bags of Hope. Jones started the program at Wheeler Middle School in 2015, and has trained staff members so they could continue the program after he left.
“The students I had in my everyday class periods were challenged to donate items that we would strategically put into tote bags for children of different genders and age-ranges,” Jones said.
A list of items that were included in the bag were flashlights, night lights, fleece blankets, stuffed animals, books, coloring supplies, coloring books, diaries or journals, school supplies, games, toys, pens or pencils, beauty supplies, outdoor games or toys, etc.
When the 2015-2016 Bags of Hope concluded, 65 complete bags were donated to the Lake County DCS, while in 2016-2017, 135 complete bags were donated. Last school year was the most successful year for the program, as 360 bags were collected and donated. Jones said although the most important goal was to help children, it also brought families together.
“This project also helped bring together the Crown Point students, families, and community for a critical life lesson; understanding empathy.”
Jones is excited for his time at Portage, and says it is hard to choose one goal he has for the district, and is always striving to make himself a better school leader and a better father.
Many of Jones’ goals will include the collaboration between administrators, staff, students, parents, and community members. He wants students to feel safe, become lifelong learners, and be active and future contributors to their community. Jones is reminded every day why he loves his new position, and loves being surrounded by the committed administration and hard-working staff. He has felt very supported since the day he was hired.
“I want students to be proud to be an Indian,” he said.
Jones says he knew a move of positions was going to happen soon, as he has a Masters Degree in Administrative Leadership and Supervision and finds it cool that he is able to still teach and coach, even as an administrator.