The Principal Who Wanted More Than The Hood


Dr. Jason Jefferson was driving on route 7 on the way to Sterling as he came to a halt at a red light. He took in his surroundings and allowed his vision to focus on a group of young men working at a local car wash. During this time, Dr. Jefferson’s school, Bladensburg High School in Baltimore, Maryland, was still receiving virtual classes. Upon seeing the teenagers work during the day, there was a specific thought that crossed his mind. 


“I wonder how many of those kids should be at Park View right now, but they’re working because they have to.”  


  Analyzing the situation that surrounded him, Dr. Jefferson decided to apply for the principal position at Park View High School. There was a sense of similarity between Bladensburg and Park View that drove him to make the decision. Students from both schools were not able to solely focus on education, and had to help with providing for their families. When he was chosen for the position, he found that he likes the community the high school is surrounded by. He was encircled with people who wanted to do better and wanted to see better. 


“I came from what some people would call the ghetto, or the hood, of Philadelphia — and because I had good teachers who really cared, I was able to leave the hood,” said Dr. Jefferson.


Through the years, he has learned just how important it is to have teachers who are dedicated to teaching and creating an impact in the life of a student. He’s seen it first hand in his life as he remembers the teachers who pushed him to move forward and to strive for more. A big example of this was Ms. Bush-Campbell, Dr. Jefferson’s math teacher in the 9th grade, who went to the front and solved an equation that seemed impossible to their eyes. 


“I’m going to drop out and become a drug dealer,” Dr. Jefferson’s classmate explained to the geometry class. The idea of standing in a corner and earning “quick” money was becoming more appealing to him than sitting in a classroom. 


Ms. Bush-Campbell looked at the student and with confidence exclaimed, “that’s a math problem,” as she marched to the board. 


Her bold statement left a young Dr. Jefferson in confusion. He thought to himself: No, Ms. Bush-Campbelll. This is no math problem, he just said that he wanted to drop out and sell drugs. However, little did he know that she’d show them just how fast their quick money comes running out of their pockets. Her calculations were filled with truth, as she explained to them that the 14 hours they wasted in finding a victim, they could have spent 8 of it in an office. Not enduring the cold, not looking like a fool, and not having the pressure of guilt consume them. 


“I had really … good teachers who were invested in not just my success, but invested in the life of the kids,” Dr. Jefferson stated. 


While there were many who didn’t take the advice in wanting something more than the streets, Dr. Jefferson made sure to not be one of them. With hard work, Dr. Jefferson was able to obtain an undergraduate degree, two master’s degrees, and a doctorate degree. 


Dr. Jefferson wishes to pass down the same motivation he received from his teachers to Park View students. With the help of teachers and staff, he wants to ensure that Park View is a place where any student can come and be offered everything they need to be successful. He believes that even with all of the hardships, one can still overcome and excel. They just need someone to help them along the way, presenting them the opportunities they’re able to pursue.  


“Park View students may not look like other students in the county, but they are just as bright, just as intelligent, and just as motivated to succeed as the students that they don’t look like,” said Jefferson.


Dr. Jefferson wants to continue to build an expanded and efficient system in which students are supported to the fullest. Whether that be by adding recovery days or making education fun, he wants to make sure that no obstacle can limit someone from receiving the power of education. 


“We have to give grace and mercy to our students,” Jefferson said. 


With tough love and patience, he believes that he’ll be able to succeed in these goals. He wants his students to know that he’ll be there for them at all times. He enjoys it when students are open to him and have no fear in telling him what they’re going through. This understanding comes from Dr. Jefferson remembering how he was as a student. He speaks his advice from experience of his 15 year-old self and a father for his own high school son. The High school director who loves sneakers, games, and music only has a passion to spread the power of education to every student. 


“[The power of education] means that you can make it,” said Jefferson.