“The question I’m always trying to answer is how do we keep kids within reach?”
As the new vice principal at L.V. Rogers, Jordan Konken has a passion for including everyone — especially those who might feel disenfranchised within the hallways of Nelson’s only high school.
And now that he’s settling into his new role, he wants students to know they have an ally in him.
“There are students who are going to thrive in this environment, and we’re going to make things so it best meets their needs obviously,” Konken told the Star.
“But right now we might have some students who may or may not feel like this is the place for them, so it’s a great challenge to figure out how we make things workable for these kids so they can be included in our family here.”
And that’s a big task, considering the diversity of L.V. Rogers’ population. But as one of the SD8 employees responsible for starting the REACH program at Central School, this is a subject he’s passionate about.
“I’ve been teaching for 17 years, and I started off as an elementary school teacher. The big game changer for me was when I got a position in the district in the alternate education program.”
His experiences there profoundly affected him.
“It taught me what the important pieces are in working with kids.
“When you work with kids who haven’t found their fit, who are maybe from lower socio-economic backgrounds, the at-risk youth, you get to realize how they best learn in the school system and then you can accommodate that.”
And that means looking at students’ whole life, not just their education.
“It’s about making learning rigorous, making it relevant, but always with that foundation of healthy relationships,” he said.
“If we don’t find out what those needs are, we’re going to be missing something — especially for our more at-risk youth. We’ll be missing out on an opportunity to meet their needs in a way that could make them successful.”
Konken has been working at L.V. Rogers for three years as the learning assistant, so he already knows many of the students and staff, but he feels like this is an opportunity to engage with “a broader range of students.”
“I try to be out in the hallways and in the classrooms as much as I can,” Konken said. He noted that the exercise ball chair he uses in his office due to back problems keeps him from remaining idle.
“It’s a reminder that I can’t sit very long, so it gets me out there.”
He believes in “servant leadership.”
“We have so many great teachers and staff at this school that a lot of what I do is about supporting them in their classrooms.”