The first day of school was a big one in Jason and Carrie Paske’s household. Their triplets started kindergarten, their oldest son started third grade, Carrie resumed work as a math teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in Blaine and Jason began his first school year as the official principal of Blaine High School after serving as the school’s interim leader last year.
“The summers are nice because you can recharge,” Paske said. He learned last year that “this is such a stressful position. There’s so much going on all the time. Everybody expects you to have the answers.”
But the summers aren’t his favorite job perk: It’s coming to work and being surrounded by 3,000 students and 250 staff members, he said.
“It’s rewarding. It makes the stress worth it,” Paske said.
Paske had little lead time before starting as interim principal in 2016.
“Last year was a lot of fun, but it was crazy because we had the transition here at the end of August,” he said.
John Phelps resigned as principal in early August, and Paske, then an assistant principal, was brought on as interim principal Aug. 22, one day before new teacher orientation and one week before all teachers returned to the building. Class was in session two weeks after Paske stepped into his new position.
The administrative team, all of whom have taught at Blaine or graduated from Blaine, worked together to make the transition as smooth as possible, Paske said.
“We’re all pretty passionate about Blaine High School,” he said.
Paske started his teaching career as a math teacher at BHS.
With a father who taught technical education for 38 years and a mother who worked as a special education paraprofessional, Paske said he was “destined” for a career in education. His sister is a teacher, too.
Paske earned his degree in education from Winona State University and, later, a master’s from St. Mary’s University.
After teaching math at BHS for four years, Paske worked elsewhere in the Anoka-Hennepin School District as a math teaching and learning specialist and assistant principal at Coon Rapids Middle School and Coon Rapids High School.
He returned to BHS to work as an assistant principal in 2011.
Assuming the role of principal in a more permanent capacity, Paske’s goals are “first and foremost relationships,” he said. Positive relationships within the school will improve learning.
“Once students know that you care about them, we really feel like that’s going to allow us to increase student learning and support their goals a little bit better,” Paske said.
During his year as interim principal, Paske made an impression on staff, Anoka-Hennepin Superintendent David Law said. “He is connecting with that Blaine High School teaching staff and that community.”
During the interview process, Law realized that “we’d be doing a great thing for the students of Blaine by putting him in a leadership role,” he said.
Studying assessment data to improve learning processes and enhance the craft of teaching is another goal that’s always at the forefront of BHS educators’ work, Paske said.
Technology is changing the face of education, and teachers must not only share content with students, but facilitate learning by showing students how to be resourceful. Individualized learning plans are becoming more and more “critical,” Paske said.
When Paske isn’t at school, he’s spending time with his wife and kids.
“Family is first,” he said.
Paske is also a sports fanatic, cheering on the Gophers, Twins, Vikings and Wild.
He loves snowboarding, and he makes time to ride some powder at least once each winter.
His family enjoys traveling. This summer, he and his wife joined friends on a vacation in Bermuda.
On day three of the new school year, “it’s right back in the swing of things,” he said.
Paske wants this article to be the last about him: “I prefer to be behind the scenes lifting up our students and then our staff,” he said. “It’s about the kids.”