LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Jon Gollias

Position: Principal
School: Marston Middle School
School District: San Diego Unified School District
City, State: San Diego, CA

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Jon Gollias was nominated by his colleague, Mark Wilkinson.

Mr. Gollias has enthusiastically and graciously supported Marston’s established classes and programs. Of all the programs, he has especially embraced the Exploration and Intervention Advisory, Marston’s one-of-a-kind student incentive program. It is a unique advisory that rewards students who meet key learning targets on assessments and class assignments with fun exploration classes that are offered every three weeks throughout the school year. Fun classes involve things like iMovie, robotics, cartoon drawing, and Ultimate Frisbee. There are 52 available choices that students can choose from. If students do not meet key learning targets, they are placed into three week intervention classes related to core subjects. Once significant improvements are made, these students rotate into the exploration classes.

When Mr. Gollias became Marston's new principal, he had the option to revert Marston’s Exploration and Intervention advisory, which is a Herculean task to manage. He enthusiastically embraced the challenge and through his honed leadership skills, he solidified unity among his entire staff to continue pressing forward with this student incentive endeavor. Mr. Gollias never runs away from a challenge, no matter how difficult, especially when it promotes his vision to make Marston Middle School the best possible learning environment for his students and staff. He has not only helped keep Marston’s Exploration and Intervention advisory program alive and running smoothly, but has improved it by adding fun exploration classes like Lego League Robotics, Karakuri Mechanical Toys, and Yearbook. To give students a head start at choosing an academic pathway when they enter Marston’s neighborhood High school, Clairemont, Mr. Gollias has worked hard to add choices that align with Clairemont’s academic pathway choices. 

Marston students now have the option to select Medical Sciences, Entrepreneurship, and Computer Coding, which align with Clairemont’s Health and Medical Sciences, Business, and Information Technology pathways, respectively, in addition to the established and popular robotics class that aligns with the pathway choice of Engineering Design. Students have all four academic pathway options available to explore. For the intervention component of the advisory program, Mr. Gollias has eagerly supported teachers who have volunteered to teach a yearlong Success advisory class. Students are invited to attend this class with parent consent, but may opt out of at any time. An intervention class is designed to give students success in all the areas needed to improve academically and social-emotionally. The advisory teacher takes on the role of encourager and mentor for these students, who find it very difficult to meet the required learning targets.

In addition to enthusiastically supporting and enhancing Marston’s Exploration and Intervention program, Mr. Gollias has also worked tirelessly as a humble and approachable team player to add classes, programs, partnerships, and continued professional development opportunities, to help create the best learning environment for Marston’s students. He has added classes such as Choir, Visual Arts, Theatre, Computer Science, Engineering and much more. The clubs that were added include Peer Leaders Uniting Students, Student Council, Gay-Straight Alliance, Volunteer Community Service Core, and Ally Action. He has created a new partnership with Capturing Kids’ Hearts, which is a program designed to show teachers how to create high-achieving centers of learning by strengthening students’ connectedness to others, through enhancing healthy bonds with their teachers and establishing collaborative agreements of acceptable behavior. Another program that was added is the Peer Leaders Uniting Students (PLUS), which is an effective program that trains a diverse cross section of student leaders to lead discussions with peers, helping them discover and address students’ concerns with the end result of creating a more unified school climate.

In the last two and a half years Mr. Gollias has worked tirelessly to support and add classes, programs, partnerships, and ongoing professional development to support his vision for students to be offered the best learning possible. Marston students’ test scores are now above the state average in all state assessments, eighth grade promotion rates have risen to an all-time high of 91%, reclassification of English Learners continues to rise at impressive rates, and suspensions and behavioral incidences have been reduced significantly.

"Jon Gollias is truly a LifeChanger for Marston’s students, staff, parents, and volunteer community members, because it is in his DNA to deeply care about all people, as seen in how he never seeks recognition for his many accomplishments, but rather finds his greatest joy in working with students and staff as a team player, and lifting up the successes of those he cheerfully leads," Wilkinson said.



Comments (17)


Craig Dorval Posted over a year ago

Jon Gollias is an excellent principal. He encourages and equips students and teachers to engage with community projects. He understands that students’ education is much broader and deeper than what goes on in classrooms. It’s a deep pleasure to work with Jon, who is always gracious, honest, and straightforward.

Pam Hashimoto Posted over a year ago

Jon Gollias is an enthusiastic and innovative young principal. He is easy for staff and students to approach with educational and personal concerns. He has a clear vision for Marston's students' integration into 21st Century technology and has helped institute several innovative and technologically engaging classes to our campus. He is also creative when implementing changes to school traditions, like awards assemblies and Friday activities. He is constantly and consistently trying to increase student engagement, both academically and socially. Marston is now beginning its integration of Project Based Learning, as well as coding, engineering, digital and traditional art, video graphic technology, and many other interesting and essential 21 Century educational experiences.

Pam Hashimoto Posted over a year ago

Jon Gollias is a young and enthusiastic administrator. He is easy for both students and staff to approach with innovative ideas, school and personal issues, and complaints. He has a clear vision for the modernization the students' experiences at Marston Middle School. Under his leaderships and with the support of key staff members like Lori Holland, he has enhanced our robotics program and integrated several technologically advanced classes to our curriculum. These classes include coding, video production, digital art, industrial design, engineering, and many other interesting and engaging 21st Century electives. He encourages student participation at events on Fridays, in the lunch court and is consistently piloting new activities to increase student engagement in both the social and educational opportunities at Marston Middle School.

Thanh-Thuy Cao Posted over a year ago

Mr. Jon Gollias is a person who opens to new ideas and would always find ways to make the school better in both academic and school environment. He works well with colleagues, students, and parents. I am extremely happy that he is being recognized.

Joanna Schonian Posted over a year ago

I am so happy that Mr. Jon Gollias is being recognized for his great work at Marston. Through his leadership he has graciously created one of the best learning environments among middle schools. It is evident that Mr. Gollias is passionate about having a nurturing, relevant and contemporary learning environment. Mr. Gollias enhanced Marston's unique Exploration program which provides students with opportunities to explore interests in STEM, Arts, and Sports. He continues to make other school wide improvements that positively affect us all and ultimately can be life changing to our future citizens. Jon, you are a magnificent captain at the helm, navigating the path to success. Way to go! I am very proud to be a Marston Mariner.

Eric Kieweg Posted over a year ago

Mr. Gollias is an amazing guy. Like my wife Terai, I've not formally met the man, but have heard amazing things about him from both my son Daniel, and Mr. Wilkinson's biography about him. I'm deeply happy that Daniel is able to attend this school, and joyous of the thought that he, and his schoolmates will be safe under the wing of the amazing man, Jon Gollias. He is and will always be amazing

Brent Vaught Posted over a year ago

Mr. Gollias has the heart of a life-changer. It seems he is on this planet to help everyone become better and better. Both students and staff have been impacted in positive ways by his leadership. Jon always has time for any person who needs to be heard. In the two years I have known him he has continued to amaze me with his example and belief demonstrating that we all can be life-changers.

Kevin Mahoney Posted over a year ago

When I first arrived at Marston for my new assignment Jon met me outside and initiated a very friendly conversation, telling me all about the school and all the good work going on. What he failed to tell me was that he was the principal! And this says a lot about who Jon is as a leader and as a person. His very present authority comes from his persistent and yet gentle guiding hand to better the quality of the school by supporting and guiding all those who work there. I am a Speech-Language Pathologist, so I encounter many troubled youths and parents dealing with difficult times, and Jon's presence in the IEP meetings has always been the exact right combination of being at the helm while being a sympathetic and empathetic. learning. I'm excited about the future of Marston and glad to be a member of the team. Thanks, Jon.

Martha Allison Posted over a year ago

Jon Gollias is amazing! My daughter has grown so much in the last year that she has attended Marston. He is very passionate about Marston and all the kids who attend. He supports choir, musical instruments, sports and theater. He really encourages all students to reach their highest potentials. He has brightened every students day and has made a huge impact on their learning. The staff there are very supportive to kids, and make learning fun. Marston gives many opportunities such as electives and advisory's. Jon Gollias has not only impacted my daughter, but many other students. He is very passionate about every child and he puts his all into their learning. My daughter loves going to school and is proud to be a Marston Mariner!

Joni Moravec Posted over a year ago

Jon is a positive, fair, caring, kind, and professional educator who cares about our school community with his whole heart! He works hard to make our school safe, fun and a great learning experience for students. He supports our teachers and staff with respect and appreciation for our hard work. He is always looking for ways to improve learning and achievement. He also recognizes the need to support students who struggle and has brought several unique programs to our school that promote emotional growth. Jon is committed to making Marston the best school!

Terai Lynch Posted over a year ago

Mr. Gollias is a great man. He's a great community member, a great person, but most of all, he's a great principal. Although I may not know the man personally, his interactions with my son, Daniel show him to be the best nominee for this award. He's thoughtful, has a kind soul, and will take whatever problem one student may have, and fix it to the best of his abilities. With all my heart, I say that he deserves this award. Very, very nice man.

Doren James Gendron Posted over a year ago

Mr. Gollias always goes out of his way to ask how everyone is doing, but with a difference. He truly wants to know. If your answer is a ,"Not so good," he asks questions to find out why. He will make a note, and take necessary action if it is a school related problem. Nice guy!

Alma Pineda Posted over a year ago

Mr. Jon Gollias is an exceptional person, he is innovative, compassionate, very well respected and a visionary. Constantly supporting all our students and staff as well, and always looking for ways to improve our school in some sort or way. He has created such a great community of learners among the students, as well as teachers and all staff. Always willing to interact with students in the classrooms as well as out of the classrooms and during lunch. He is a wonderful example of a great principal as well as an incredible leader.

Pamela Knudsen Posted over a year ago

I feel that Mr. Gollias has been professional, friendly and kind to students and staff at Marston Middle School. He is very gentle with the students in his direction, as such they respond to him respectfully. I feel that moral at Marston is high because of his demeanor and leadership. I wish him all the best and congratulations for this esteemed nomination!

Pamela Winter Posted over a year ago

The impact that he has made on the students and community members is incredible. Every day I will talk to someone who would like their student to attend Marston, or a community member commenting on how pleased they are with our students demeanor or how pleasant they are treated by staff. The students and staff are a direct reflection our Principal Jon Gollies, so not only is he changing the lives of students, he is also changing the lives of the community.

Janice Boyd Posted over a year ago

Choir has been such a gift to my daughter. Singing has brought her joy and a confidence she didnt realize she possessed. Thank you for making the music department an important part of the curriculum at Marston middle school.

Nora Castro Posted over a year ago

It makes me so happy to see Jon Gollias being honored this way! I have never, as a student or teacher, worked with anyone so dexterous at being a strong professional without losing his humanity. I consider myself privileged for having met him. I strongly believe that his grace and positive demeanor have helped us teachers foster the same respect and understanding when addressing and leading our young Mariners. He truly makes Marston feel like a big family! Yay Jon!