Getting to Know Jennifer Knight, Assistant Principal of Weston HS
The Owl met new High School Assistant Principal Jennifer Knight last week, three days before official school start. Guidance and administrative staff were newly back on campus, the cafeteria floors being buffed, and the high school pond was in the process of muck-raking. The hallways were as yet empty, yet almost humming with anticipation. After a brief introduction by Principal Paul Peri, the Owl asked Ms. Knight a few questions.
Jennifer Knight came to Weston by way of Burlington Public Schools where she was the Director of Family and Community Engagement, which she describes as a central office role supporting families of students in pre-K to grade 12. As part of that, she spent a lot of time at the high school, working issues of enrollment, social and emotional support, as well as supporting guidance and special education. You can read more of her biography on the Weston Public Schools page.
Knight referred to her role as “working to support supports.” Or for those of you in favor of acronyms, this can also be termed as an IST or Instructional Support Team that helps remove educational or behavioral stumbling blocks for all students. Knight is in Weston to help all families and students in a variety of ways– “my hope is that there is increased engagement and communication across all grade levels including minorities and underrepresented families.”
Ms. Knight is a fellow in Cohort 3 of the Influence 100, a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)-led initiative to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of superintendents in Massachusetts, create more culturally responsive districts and leaders across the Commonwealth, and promote better outcomes for students.
In 2019 (the start of the program), only 4% of Massachusetts school superintendents were people of color, while 40% of the students served by public school districts were people of color. Knight is one year into the two-year program in a cohort of 20 educators and administrators, including Amy Kelly, Weston Public Schools’ Director of Equity and Professional Learning.
“I credit Amy Kelly for being instrumental in my move to Weston Public Schools,” said Knight. “She made me think about Weston, but what sealed the deal was an amazing panel of Weston students whose thoughtful and insightful questions made me want to be a part of this community.”
When asked about a favorite teacher, Ms. Knight named Dr. Sohail Rana, who is. head of pediatric oncology and an infectious disease specialist at the Howard University College of Medicine. She worked for four years with Dr. Rana while attending college. “He taught me to never ever stop learning,” Knight said. “It was all about empowerment and making me believe that I could do anything.”
Before working as a Director in Burlington, Mrs. Knight was a business owner and educator in Washington State. She holds a Master’s and BA in Education. Originally from the Boston area, she and her family now live in Dorchester–her two eldest chidren attend college in Washington state and in Boston, while her youngest son will attend Country School as a kindergartner starting in two days (go ‘cats!).
When the Owl asked Ms. Knight for photos for this story, the vast majority were family photos. And when asked about what she likes to do in her free time, the answer was immediate–anything outdoors with her five-year old Kingston. Hiking, splash pads, local adventures. It almost makes me wish the Owlets were still up for these adventures…alas, they are firmly in the teenage years when adventures seem to be limited to trying to wake them up in the morning.
One of the inevitable questions asked by the Owl of all new district employees is “who would win: a Wildcat or a …..whatever the mascot was of their prior school system.”. In this case, it is the Wildcats vs the Burlington Red Devils. It was answered correctly of course that it is always and forever the Wildcats. That is so very true in this case: a total win in bringing Jennifer Knight to Weston.