The new principal at Jackson Middle School will be familiar to families with high school-age children.

The new principal at Jackson Middle School will be familiar to families with high school-age children.

Dan Boland began his new duties after serving most recently as an assistant principal at Grove City High School.

Jackson is a feeder school into GCHS, "so I already know many of the families," Boland said.

Boland has worked at the high school level since coming to the South-Western district, first as a math teacher before moving up to an administrative position.

"I came here from Chicago and fell in love with this district," he said. "It's a large district, but it has a small-town feel. Everybody knows one another and everyone is eager to help each other."

Boland was assigned to Central Crossing High School when it opened in 2002 and he credits the school's first principal, Ed Palmer, as well as another South-Western administrator, Ron Meyer, with mentoring and inspiring him to move from being a teacher to principal.

Like many educators, the itch to become a teacher started when Boland was a student.

"I had a calculus teacher my senior year in high school, Kari Vanderjack, and she boosted my interest in math, but also in being a teacher," he said. "She made students feel that she was on their side. She made you feel like it was you and her working together against the curriculum, not teacher vs. student."

Her example of encouraging students guided his own approach to teaching, Boland said.

"The best part of being a teacher is just watching students as they grow socially and make gains academically," he said.

Boland said he is especially excited about serving as a middle school principal.

"It's such an important two years of transition for students," he said. "They are going through so many changes during those years. I'm really looking forward to helping to guide them through that transition to high school."

Although he has previously worked at the high school level, Boland said he doesn't think it will be too much of a transition for him.

"Good teaching is good teaching," he said. "I've worked a lot at the freshman level, so it's only one year difference from middle school."

As Jackson's new principal, Boland said, his main task will be "fine tuning" and encouraging teachers to continue and enhance their practice of working collaboratively.