Baltimore County public schools started today — so we thought it was a great day to introduce you to Jerry Easterly, principal of Battle Monument! He’s dishing about his favorite part of the job, mechanical pencils, chocolate milk, taking one thing at a time and Queen.
PS — his unique skills surprised us!!
Former Life: Adult Services for Individuals with Disabilities
What is the sweetest part of your job?
There was a pre-K student I had as a teacher at Battle Monument whose parent had been told by professionals in the community her son would never walk. Two years later, the student was part of a school performance and walked across the stage. The mom was in tears and in awe that we did not allow previous opinion to limit what our teachers, therapists, and staff could do with a child.
What do you do to get yourself revved up for the year?
I spend time with my sons and family. I read for pleasure and do some of my hobbies. I reflect about the past year to recharge for the upcoming year.
Are there any unique skills you have that your staff or students may not know about?
My mother taught me how to needle point and I also know how to cut hair.
Aside from your principal duties what other hats have you worn to help run your school?
You need to be a jack-of-all-trades. I have done everything from painting, weeding, moving furniture, and taking down and putting up bulletin boards. There are jobs that sometimes we don’t have anyone to do so sometimes staff gets together to get it done individually or collectively. I try to keep as much funds directed for specific student needs and this is one area that I can help. Also, because of the population we serve I sometimes have to help with toileting and personal care.
What is the stinkiest job you have done as a principal?
There was a classroom that both teachers and students kept complaining of a foul odor but by the time I walked down to the classroom the odor was gone. It took several weeks to figure out that a squirrel had died in the drainage pipes and the smell was being filtered into the class through the heating and cooling system, which explained the cyclical nature of the smell.
If you had to pick two welcome back songs one for your staff and one for the students, which would they be?
You Light Up My Life by Debbie Boone for the students and We Are The Champions by Queen for the staff.
What organizational strategies have you kept as a principal that you used as a teacher?
I use humor a lot but also make sure to set the tone that there is a time and place for everything.
What was your favorite school supplies growing up? Now?
I loved mechanical pencils and pens. Now, I still love mechanical pencils but am also transitioning into paperless life with a writing tablet.
How do you get your teacher’s revved up for the coming year?
I make sure that teachers understand we face challenges together, not to dwell on things when we aren’t successful. It is important to look at the human side of everything. I focus on celebrating accomplishments, acknowledge firsts, make it comfortable to cry good and sad tears, and not be afraid of the challenges we face every day.
While most teachers and students are off for the summer what are you doing?
I plan a lot but understand that no matter how planned you are it is more important to be able to adjust as plans don’t always happen as you like. I check to make sure the building is ready for staff and order the materials they need. It is important to create a positive and focused tone and message to start off the year.
What message would you send to families getting ready to transition from relaxed summer times to hectic fall schedules?
Take everything a day at a time. Don’t forget to smell the flowers and observe the beauty around us.
What was your favorite back to school food growing up? Now?
The chocolate milk, it still is my favorite back to school food but I don’t drink it anymore.
If you had to play for the Orioles or the Ravens, which would you choose?
I played both sports as a kid but after being hit by a baseball I quickly drew weary of the sport. Even now at baseball games, all my friends know if we go to a baseball game and a baseball flies near us it is every man for himself because I will be running the opposite way. So, I would definitely pick the Ravens.
Battle Monument is a special education public separate day school located at 7801 E. Collingham Drive, Dundalk.
Have a principal we should interview? Let us know! Send an email to heather AT coolprogeny.com