Early in January, Eric Fay joined Jones College Prep as Acting Assistant Principal. An Iowa native, Mr. Fay discovered teaching at age 16 when his church needed a preschool Sunday school teacher. “I volunteered and fell in love with teaching,” he says.
He earned his Masters in Educational Administration from Northern Illinois University and is currently enrolled in the Urban Education Leadership program at the University of Illinois at Chicago earning his doctorate in education. At the start of his career, he taught science in the suburbs of Chicago at various schools in grades 6-12 and coached several athletic teams. “I really had a blast teaching and coaching, however, through my graduate studies I was drawn to the diversity and vibrancy of the city and so I began teaching at CPS’s Andrew Jackson Language Academy.”
After 8 ½ years of teaching, he sought to expand his impact on students beyond the classroom and moved into administration. He has worked at three National Blue Ribbon schools, most notably at Audubon Elementary where he was the assistant principal. “Helping Audubon achieve this prestigious designation reinforced for me not only what school excellence is but also how to unlock a school’s potential,” he explains. “I was interested in coming to Jones because I feel that its vision for educating the whole person closely matches my educational philosophy and, like JCP, I have always set ‘excellence’ as my personal standard.”
He clearly sets high personal goals, as Friends of Jones found out when we asked him to answer a few questions so that we could get to know him better. “During my time at Jones,” he says, “I will treat each student as I would want my own children treated; with compassion, caring, and enthusiasm.”
Q: What did a farm upbringing teach you?
A: I feel very fortunate for having grown up on a farm in Iowa. We had lots of pigs, some chickens, and a variety of other animals from time to time. We also had about 40 acres of hay. Farm-life taught me to appreciate everyone’s contribution to society and that we can all help to make the world a better place. And, yes I can drive a tractor, milk a cow, and ride a horse 😉
Q: Your travel resume — including the Galapagos and Guyana — is impressive! How do you pick your destinations?
A: I love to travel. It’s such a valuable experience to learn about other cultures, and every time I return I find new things to appreciate about my own home. When I’m planning my next destination, I consider a locale that combines beautiful nature, exciting activities, and an authentic experience. For example, during my trip to China I visited the Shaolin Temple and was fortunate to share tea with the head monk.
Q: You’ve coached several athletic teams. including football, baseball and wrestling. Is motivating athletes similar to managing students?
A: There are several similarities between motivating athletes and managing students. First, it’s important to set goals. Do you want to be the State Champion? Do you want to get into an Ivy League university? It all starts with setting a goal. Second, the spirit of competition is to better oneself. We can’t always win, but we can always learn and get better every day. Third, how you practice is how you’ll perform. Therefore, give every practice and every classroom assignment your best effort.
Q: After a week on the job, what’s your first impression of Jones?
A: WOW! The students are mature, engaged, and happy. The staff members are focused, professional, and dynamic. The parents are involved, supportive, and friendly. My first impression of Jones is that this is a school with a determined focus on providing students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for college success. I’m very happy to join the JCP family!