Weston Voices: Welcome Woodland School’s New Principal Jason Dimen
As Owl readers know, we here at the journalistic center of the universe (and facetiously using the royal “we”) love the Weston Public School system. As a product of the Nutmeg State’s public school system, we have always appreciated the exceptional teachers and administrators along the way. Woodland School, the cutest-named of all Weston’s schools, has recently named Jason Dimen as the new principal.
The Owl caught up with Jason by email, using all ten talons to type out some questions. Actually, owls only have four talons on each foot, and can rotate one of the forward ones to the back to rip heads off chipmunks. Did you need to know that? You did. Let that be a warning to detractors. Oh, just kidding Weston, relax.
I hope to catch up with Principal Dimen in person later this year since it occurs to this Owl that she knows little about what goes on at the elementary schools anymore. Must change that. Anyway, meet Jason Dimen:
Owl: You came to Weston from the Hopkinton school system, and an assistant principal role. What do think will be the major differences in the towns and roles?
Jason: I’m elated to come to Weston and its small-town feel and close-knit community. I certainly saw that displayed back in May during the Celebrate Weston event. Hopkinton is also a great town and is increasingly growing in population. We had 640 students in 2nd and 3rd grade alone in my previous school, so it was nearly impossible to get to know each student and family, but my goal here at Woodland is to do just that. As a building leader, I am eager to continue the tradition of a world-class education for the students of Weston and work with families to rebuild some of the school/home connections challenged by the pandemic.
You have taught math and science (middle school and elementary school, right?). What do you think that experience helps you be a better principal?
One thing I emphasized to my students is to always be an innovator. Make things better when needed, come up with multiple solutions to problems as needed. Also, anticipate and be prepared to tackle problems or issues we don’t even know about yet. Being a principal is a lot like being an engineer, with an added dose of working with kids and adults.
What was your favorite subject and/or teacher in elementary school?
My favorite subject was writing. I marvel at how you can express yourself in so many ways by choosing and putting words together in different ways. You could tell a story, give instructions, ponder the meaning of events. In essence, you can influence and lead people with the written word. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. [Ed.: okay, folks, I am a major fan. And yes, we are mighty.]
Who or what inspired you to get into public education and administration?
I’ve always loved working with kids. When I was a teenager, I would pile up our wood-sided station wagon with my younger siblings and numerous cousins and take them on outings to the beach and other events. After a long day, it was satisfying to see that they had fun and learned some things along the way. After I left a job in the private sector and found out I can make a living teaching and coaching kids, I was hooked! As I gained experience and had success as a teacher, I wanted to share what I had learned with other teachers. Administration was a way to do that. What I’m realizing now is that I’m learning as much as I’m sharing, perhaps even more. That’s the beauty of learning, there’s no end to it!
Do you have some first priorities that you would like to share with the community?
I’d like families to feel that they are welcome back to school – volunteering, watching events, meeting teachers. Zoom was great when we needed it, but personal contact is best. My staff and I will ensure that students are safe and cared for when in school and, together with families, we will provide the students of Weston the best education in the world!
Woodland is not only a cute name but reflects the school’s location next to nature and conservation areas, as well as the Marian Case Nature Classroom. What do you think about outdoor classrooms and being a part of the environment there?
At the end of my first day at work, I walked on the trail next to Woodland. I didn’t know where the trail would lead, and I felt like an explorer. It took me up and down hills, past the Marian Case Nature Classroom, and eventually to the Field School parking lot. That short little hike was invigorating for both the body and mind. I am eager to work with my staff and our curriculum specialists to incorporate the natural treasure we have, literally in our backyard, into our academic and social-emotional learning. [Ed.: Yes!!!!!!!]
Superman or Batman?
Batman! Educators are superheroes not because they have superpowers but because we are all humans doing the best we can, as bravely as we can, using tools and gadgets we’ve engineered to do the best job possible. And we can’t do it alone; Batman had Robin, and they both had Alfred, an exceptional innovator!
The Owl is excited for the students of Woodland, ostensibly known as wolves (???), but really they are kits or ‘cats because we are all Weston Wildcats. Welcome Principal Dimen, and see you in September (actually August 31)!