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.