Jason, Head of School, Father, SC

Jason Kreutner by Misciagna.jpg

“I think now my job is more of helping kids be curious and I want them to want to be at school. That’s ultimately what we strive to have as much as possible in our school, where it’s not a burden to go to school every day if they want to go and learn and they have questions to ask.”

Jason is the head of the University School of the LowCountry. He was interviewed as part of a #Wando High School #schoolpartnership #studentvoice project with REENVISIONED, in which students interview each other and adults in their lives, and reflect together on school and what makes a good life. He was interviewed by a former student, Anna.

Hello! How are you and please tell me your name and explain a little bit of who you are and what you do.

Hi. I’m Jason Kreutner I am the head of the school of the University School of the Lowcountry. It was founded in 2007. And, as a sidenote I also coach swimming and I’ve been doing that for 30+ years. 

Great so what do you think is one of the most important things that can be taught in schools today?

Hmm, I think that’s kind of interesting… my own sort of personal philosophy is that

If there something that you want people to know as an adult, you have to be doing a version of it when they’re young.

I try to implement that every day in my school. 

And how do you try to incorporate these things into your school and with the way that you teach?

So many things are things that you know, you watch the news every day and you want people to be informed about the world, that being informed has become a habit. I try to make sure that we do that as much as possible in the school.

If you want to go the service-minded route we either have them do different types of service. Something called service learning where it’s not just bringing cans of food together, it's where you actually go out and see people we participate in day of Caring and we go and help schools in North Charleston or in other communities. It helps the mind of other people out there who could really use our assistance. It’s a way to see the good things going on the world even when you’re hearing things in the news about not so wonderful things happening in the world. 

Obviously your school, university school is on the smaller side, what is the current student body?

At the moment it’s 70

Wow, so Wando is at about 4000 and I was lucky enough to be able to experience both. I spent six years at University school and I’m now on my second year at Wando.

So what do you think are the pluses and minuses of being able to go to a small school or go to a big school like Wando?

Well I think it can be counter intuitive,

going to a large school is almost like going to the United Nations where you see all these new people that you get to meet and interact with.

But unfortunately a lot of students don’t have the social ability to go out and talk to people and meet new friends and communicate. But versus our small school we don’t have that many people, but everyone knows each other’s names, or their families, and they know interesting fact about everyone, which is something that I think can’t be replaced even with the amount of opportunities that you could have in a large school like Wando. A place like Wando, you know, you have sports and there are extracurriculars and these are things that we don’t have University School, you have experts in different types of classes, medical and business classes and if we want to teach them that we have to go out and find someone, that way you get to go out and experience things and experience the world

So you teach a class at University School called “Leadership and Life Skills”, and I think that that class really ties into being the best person you can and being able to improve in all aspects of life so how did you kind of come up with the idea for that class?

Well, when we started the school we only had a handful of people and I figured out whatever needed to be taught I could pick it up. At first one of the big things was that kids don’t know how to use the Internet which is just hard to believe in this day and age. At that time I helped with searching the internet for the best way to find credible sources, but

I think now my job is more of helping kids be curious and I want them to want to be at school.

That’s ultimately what we strive to have as much as possible in our school, where it’s not a burden to go to school every day if they want to go and learn and they have questions to ask.

I think one thing I want most is I want students to have something to say, I don’t want them to just repeat what they hear their parents say; I want them to have their own opinion.

I also want them to be able to share that and feel prepared and educated enough to share that and so I think that’s one of the main things that I teach my class, it’s just learning how you feel about something and being able to share your opinion and see what other people think and I think that’s really neat

What are some of the challenges that you think schools face today?

We don’t know what all the technology is going to mean for us. This is all one big experiment and we as adults can’t look back and think this is how our parents experienced this for the first time because they didn’t.

We’re supposed to help our kids with any problems that come up and sometimes its hard because we’re making it up as we go.

So, the final question I’m asking is what you think personally makes a good and successful life?

Well to be totally honest I think that a good and successful life means different things for different people. I think if there was someone like you, in high school, you know you might at this point in your life consider a good and successful life to be a good swim race or being friends with good people.

For me, I’ve had more time to reflect on what I’ve been doing throughout my entire life and I know how to act and how to react to things that happened to me even now. Even with new things happening every single day. My dad died when I was 11 and recently my mom passed away as well and this is a new thing for me, it’s the first time in my life that I haven’t had any living parents and it’s almost a weird experience for me. I have a wife and two children and I definitely talk to them more than I did to my parents, or to my mom at least but now, just knowing that they’re not there anymore it’s hard for me.

But you know, one thing that always brings joy to me is when the summer swim team season starts. I love going to practice and we have the new kids who can barely keep their heads above the water and then you have the kids that are your age who are really really good, just seeing the differences and being able to compare the beginning to the end of the summer is something that helps me feel like I’m helping in someway and I’m doing something.  I think that makes me feel a lot better with whatever that I’m doing in life and how I can help others

I think that’s just about it thank you so much for your time and all your help I really appreciate it this is been awesome and I’ll let you know how this little project goes - thank you so much.

10,000 Stories. One Shared Vision.

REENVISIONED is a national movement to redefine the purpose of school.  We believe schools should foster flourishing individuals and a thriving democratic society.  But what does it mean to thrive or flourish? 

To answer this, we're building the world's largest collection of stories about what it means to live good lives and the role schools should play in helping create them: 10,000 stories from people across the country.  We'll use the stories to learn about our shared values and dreams and to create a new vision for why we send our children to school. 

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