Jan Baker • The Good of Goshen

Jan Baker

Co-Principal, Goshen Middle School

Published March 2021

When I first went to college, I started off in business. I just looked around in my business classes and I thought, ‘These are not my people. I like them, but these are not my people.’ Something in me kept pulling to education, and when I switched to education, I took off and never looked back.

My current role is still co-principal, but then I will be the head principal of the junior high next school year. The name of the school will change to Goshen Junior High, and it will be seventh- and eighth-graders. Right now it’s sixth through eighth, but our fifth- and sixth-graders are all going to the big, new, beautiful intermediate school.

When I think about the challenges that we have overcome as a middle school with adolescents, the word I use to describe it is bittersweet. Our teachers have just worked tirelessly in making sure that they’ve made connections with kids.

Early on in the shutdown last spring, we made every effort to connect with every single one of our kids to just make sure they had the technology they needed so we could continue educating from a distance. We did that, and we did it really, really well.

Their need is so much. They’ve been through trauma in this last year where they’ve lost a lot of loved ones. There have been financial hardships and just that mental health piece of being isolated. We’ve been working really hard to help kids overcome, and it’s not just our kids – it’s our teachers, too. They’ve lost a lot in trying to teach from home with their own kids at home, and taking care of sick relatives, and quarantining. It’s just been an awful lot.

What I really appreciate is that we’ve been able to keep educating kids all the way through this while meeting their social and emotional needs. I’m so proud of our staff, our kids, our parents, our community. It’s been really hard.

We’re looking forward to having our kids back here five days a week starting March 17, unless they’re part of the RedHawk Online Academy; then they’ll remain online. It’s coming up, and the future’s looking bright. We are ready for our kids to be back and to get back on track.

For our junior high school, I’m most looking forward to the course offerings that we’re going to have for our students. Our seventh-graders will have opportunities to explore different world languages and performing arts. We’re adding STEM classes and computer science for our seventh-graders. For our eighth-grade students, we are offering high school credit opportunities in health and PE, another class that’s called Preparing for College and Careers (PCC), and world languages and algebra. Our students are going to be able to leave eighth grade with more high school credits than ever before. I’m really excited about our junior high model for next year.

We have such an awesome community and this is a great school system, and I just want to continue to help make it better every day.

Writing and editing by Scott Weisser and Neil King

Do you have a story you want to tell?

Do you have a story to tell about someone who contributes to Goshen’s greater GOOD?

We invite you to share!