An Eastern Jackson County school administrator, who is described as a "very energetic young man" and "doing many great things," has been named the Missouri High School Principal of the Year.
Fort Osage High School Principal Jason Snodgrass was selected from among 600 high school principals throughout the state to be named 2014 High School Principal of the Year by the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals.
"He has set a high standard for school spirit and has invigorated our building with the mantra, 'Here at Fort Osage, we do things a little better!'" wrote Fort Osage French teacher Fran Burnett.
The Examiner recently spoke with Snodgrass about his award, changes going on at Fort Osage, and also what's new for the school in the upcoming school year.
Q: How does it feel being the Missouri High School Principal of the Year?
Snodgrass: Well, I'm very humbled and honored by this award. I think this accolade is something I look at holistically as a team. There are a lot of people who are part of this (award).
Q: You are known for your mantra, "Here at Fort Osage, we do things a little better!" How exactly does your school do things better?
Snodgrass: ... (O)ne thing is that we try and create a family atmosphere. Parents, teachers, students, staff work together as a team. Our staff informs every student on their progress. We are always progressing in our attendance and graduation rate, (and) that creates a community.
Q: What are some of the things FOHS students have accomplished besides increasing their ACT composite scores? (According to Jim King of MASSP, Fort Osage's ACT composite scores have jumped from 20.9 to 21.3, along with a 10 percent increase of students being tested since Snodgrass has been principal.)
Snodgrass: We have been improving big every year. Our graduation rate has risen from 86 percent to 96 percent over the past five years. But this year, we also have been focusing on our college readiness and preparedness programs. Our theme at Fort Osage is "They have a plan." We feel it's important for our students to continue their education, whether they attend a university, tech school or join the military. We encourage them to act on their future by having sign-ups for programs, various workshops and (we) implemented an ACT preparation course.
We try to build a good rapport with students. Every student has made a connection with one staff member. Ultimately we want to see every one of them walk across that stage at graduation.
Q: In what innovative or unique ways do you collaborate with FOHS faculty or staff?
Snodgrass: We work together through our building leadership, which meets twice a month and throughout the school year. As the staff, we review building goals and are reflective of what the state puts before us. We analyze our attendance and graduation rates, as well as our end-of-course exams. We then have specific action steps under each criteria.
Fort Osage has a lot of discussion and conversation, effective professional development and building initiatives. Ultimately I want to make sure all of our teachers, regardless of the subject or grade level, are part of the team or system in order to work towards common goals.
Q: People have said you reinvigorated both school spirit and pride throughout your building. How exactly did you accomplish this?
Snodgrass: You have to be proud whenever you say you're from Fort Osage High School. We, as a team, try to mention the positives in each student and engage them to do things better. We also instill that conduct throughout the building.
We have a number of assemblies where we recognize students.
Q: What's in store for Fort Osage in the current semester and upcoming school years?
Snodgrass: All freshmen students will have Google Chromebooks starting next school year. We also held professional development in order to prepare for that. It begins the start of implementing technology in the classroom. The Chromebook is just a tool to enhance student learning and help student engagement. We are working on how to effectively utilize the aid. And the next year after that, all Fort Osage High School students will have the Chrome notebook.
MASSP will officially present Snodgrass the High School Principal of the Year Award at the Lodge of the Four Seasons in Lake Ozark, Missouri this March.