TONASKET – The Tonasket School District hiring committee and board has selected Jay Tyus from Mabton, Wash. as the new Tonasket Middle School principal, beginning next fall.
“We extended an offer to Jay Tyus to become our new middle school principal,” Superintendent Paul Turner said. “I received notification over the weekend from him that he is anxious to move his family to and become involved in the Tonasket community. He will be moving from the Mabton area with his wife and three children.”
Tyus is currently, and has been since July 2008, the principal at Mabton High School. From July 2006 to June 2008, he was the Junior-Senior High School Principal in Mabton. Prior to that, from July 2002 to June 2006, he was the middle and high school principal in Waterville. Before that, Tyus, from July 2001 to June 2002 was the high school principal intern and athletic director assistant in Ephrata. Finally, Tyus’ first job, from August 1991 to June 2002 was the chemistry/physics teacher at Ephrata High School.
Tyus is from Reardon where both of his parents were teachers. During a round robin session with parents on Thursday, April 14, he said he was hired the Friday after he graduated from college. In high school, Tyus was an athlete for Ephrata High School and he played many games in Tonasket.
“Why Tonasket? Why not?” Tyus said to the parents at the round robin session. “I’m an outdoor guy and I was raised on the ranch. My kids are in FFA and sports and small-town living is where it’s at.”
Tyus said one reason he loves living in small towns is the constant interaction with the community.
“If you end up in an interaction with a student and their parents doesn’t agree with you, you’re sometimes in the grocery store with them,” he said. “You have to work together in small towns.”
From Canada to Wenatchee, Tyus said, Tonasket is where work is being done.
Tyus began his career as a teacher and said he fully intended to stay a teacher for his entire career.
“I was a teacher of science, a football coach and an athletic director, but I had a really great mentor at Ephrata and I saw kids in a new light and learned a lot about interacting with them,” he said.
He said that middle school is a really volatile time for students and that administrators and teachers have more than half of those students waking hours, stating that what the schools do with those hours is really important.
“I’m not a ‘learn or I’ll hurt you’ guy,” Tyus continued. “I want to do whatever it takes for the kids to learn. You can’t throw a kid in the ocean and tell them to swim; you have to teach them to swim.”
Tyus said to have a good relationship with the students is important because the number one public relations schools get comes from what the kids say when they go home.
“I’m a morning guy so I greet students when they come in,” he continued. “I welcome students into assemblies and learn their names and tease them and high five them. This way, when you hold them accountable, they know it’s not them but their behavior.”
With Mabton having about 100 fewer students than Tonasket, Tyus said he won’t have a problem adjusting to Tonasket and stated that his goal is to get students through school.
“Getting kids through school is about doing whatever it takes and what we do in middle school is really critical to help kids learn what their strengths are and how to build on them as well as where the gaps are and how to fill them because to allow any students to not succeed to not okay.”
Tyus said for that success, it is important for students to have access to technology because they are the ones who are learning. However, his focus is on safety first and then growth for the students.
Tyus stated he’s open to making agreements with parents, such as a monthly call regarding a student and that he tries not to break any agreement he makes.
As for working to avoid cliques and helping students work together, Tyus said students will always want to be with their friends, but that administrators and teachers also need to intentionally get them to interact with each other.
“Access to each other is the best way to break down barriers,” he said.