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Region 17 President's Message

Jay Adams, Fountain Valley School District Administrator

Happy Fall, Amazing Administrators! I’m Jay Adams, and I’m thrilled to be representing Orange County (ACSA Region 17) as your President for the coming two years. I’m a middle school principal in the Fountain Valley School District, with prior experience at both the elementary and high school levels in teaching, counseling, and administration; I’ve been a part of ACSA since my AP days back in 2001. It is such an honor to be involved in our organization—both in terms of my own personal development AND in my ability to more effectively advocate for students and education here in our state.

At home, I’m mom to four children: Julian, 2o, Isaiah, 18, Kaia, 15, and Asia, 13. I’m active in my community, volunteering for several organizations including the Fountain Valley Woman’s Club and Elwyn. I look forward to increasing my interactions with our diverse and growing community of educational administrators. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if there is something I can do for you, or to just say hi!

One area of specific interest to me, and to many of us currently, is Social-Emotional Learning, or SEL. At each turn lately, it seems that there are more and more publishings supporting the benefits of balancing students’ academic learnings with SEL. What is rarely noted by the experts, however, is that Social-Emotional Learning starts with US—the adults. To truly provide the best for our students, we must first focus on, and provide the best for, ourselves.

Maya Angelou, a phenomenal writer and one of my own personal inspirations, asked four critical questions that we—as humans—ask each other all of the time: “Do you see me? Do you care that I’m here? Am I enough for you or do you need me to be better in some way? Can I tell that I’m special to you by the way you look at me?” These simple questions are foundational to creating a sense of safety and connection in our schools and for our students. Students’ well-being and academic engagement are reliant upon the degree to which they feel truly seen and heard. Relationships, undeniably, are crucial for cultivating a deep sense of connection.

To assist our students with answering these questions, we must be available to them and be fully “present.” Our greatest gifts to offer students are our ability to accept them as they are…and our presence. How to do this, though, is not so simple. Cultivating students’ “habits of mind”—their awareness, attention, flexibility, and intentionality—can best be accomplished through our own personal mindfulness practice.

Our profession—educational administration—is defined by just a “tad” amount of stress, no? It seems that there are never-ending new expectations, pressures, and risks to be taken. School administration, as a whole, has a high rate of attrition, most likely for these very reasons. As a telling example, more than half of school principals leave their jobs by year five! What can be done to deepen our self-awareness and self-management skills, allowing us to simply breathe and take on our daily work with joy?

To be sure, I do NOT possess all the answers—if I even have any to offer—but after 25 years serving in education, I have realized that to take care of others (and teach them to be their best selves), I must actively take care of myself. This mindfulness trend of late really has something to be said for it.

So this year, I’m on a journey…One to be a better “me” to my family, to my students, to my colleagues…to myself! I invite you to join me. Let’s seek out a mindfulness book to read (I’m trying Heart! by educator Timothy Kanold). Let’s find a few minutes daily to breathe and focus on “healing” our stress. Let’s find a way to re-connect with our students and our staffs and to reinvigorate our practices for a more visible, tangible sharing of ourselves with them. Here’s to a phenomenal school year!