Jason Cheslock is the new principal at Poolville Elementary, after serving as associate principal at Gainesville High School.
Cheslock started his new job earlier this week. Former Poolville Elementary Principal Michael Thurman has been promoted to staff and student services director for the district.
Thurman’s new position was created to alleviate the workload of PISD’s Programs Director Cathy Pennington and make the district more efficient, Superintendent Jeff Kirby said. Although their specific duties are still being decided, Pennington is expected to manage the cafeteria and transportation while Thurman will handle testing, professional development and special services.
Promoting Thurman is expected to help the district achieve its goals in terms of increasing test scores, closing achievement gaps and growing the career technical education program, Kirby said.
“Basically what it does is it gives us a person that can go from campus to campus on a daily basis and make sure that the things we’re trying to get in place are being put in place,” Kirby said.
Thurman said he sees his new job as being there to support the campuses with their needs, whether that be in maintenance and operations, filling in for a principal absence, in testing or in special services.
“My goal is to be a servant leader, and I don’t take that lightly,” Thurman said. “We’ve got really good things going on here, and this little 2A school district can be a diamond very shortly. We can become a destination that people want their kids to be at.”
Kirby said Cheslock is the best fit at the elementary campus, and the faculty “love him already.”
“I think Jason fits Michael’s mold of what he wanted at the elementary, and he’s going to continue the things that Michael started there, and he’s going to bring a lot of talents to the table to help our faculty at the elementary continue in the direction they were going,” Kirby said.
Cheslock said he wanted to join the team in Poolville because of the community environment and focus on student achievement.
“It’s a very family-driven atmosphere,” Cheslock said. “Any campus that I’ve walked onto here in Poolville, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to walk on all three of them, you just feel it when you walk in the door. There wasn’t a single individual that didn’t make me or my spouse feel incredibly welcome and feel like part of the team right from walking in.”
Cheslock shares Kirby’s goals of increasing student achievement, raising test scores and closing the gaps, he said. Cheslock is entering his 13th year as an educator, and has served at the elementary, middle school and high school levels in a variety of teaching roles as well as in administration.
Cheslock said, “sound instruction is sound instruction at any level,” when asked about his current transition from high school to elementary.
“Kids are kids, they’re just in different-sized bodies,” Cheslock said. “When you love kids and you love working with kids, any age group or any opportunity to do that is very, very appealing.”
During the transition, Thurman is helping Cheslock while he adjusts to the elementary’s schedule, policies and procedures.
“That’s the right thing to do,” Thurman said. “You don’t just abandon something that you’ve invested a lot of time in. And I know it was only since July 1, but I’ve put a lot of time in, and I want that campus to flourish like I want all campuses to flourish, but I’ve got an investment down there.”