Getting to know Dr. Jason Scheer, Casady's next Middle Division Director
Dr. Scheer will take the helm of the Middle Divison in the 2019-20 school year. Take the opportunity to begin getting to know Dr. Scheer now!
You have been at Wesleyan for most of your career. What inspired you to seek change? Why did you seek the Middle Division position at Casady?
I moved from Edmond, Oklahoma to Atlanta, Georgia in the fall of 1999, and have been there working at a K-12 independent school for the last 18 years. During this time I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of roles in the middle and high schools, as well as roles that serve the entire K-12 community. After finishing my doctorate in educational leadership at the University of Georgia, I felt that it was the right time in my career to broaden my experiences beyond Wesleyan and pursue my desire to lead a middle school division. Having grown up in Edmond, I have known of Casady’s excellent reputation for quality education for my entire life, and I was thrilled when I became aware of the opening and applied right away.
What do you value about Casady School?
Casady has a rich history of preparing students for college and for life. During my interview process, I found parents, teachers and administrators who are asking two essential questions – what is best for our students and what will create durable learning? These questions resonate with me as I have always looked for ways to create lasting positive impact in my students. As a Christian, I connect strongly with Casady’s Episcopal tradition and development of the entire person: mind, body and spirit. I found the people at Casady to be proud and thankful for their history, and also adventurous and hopeful for the future. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to play a part of that future.
Why did you choose education as your career path?
I did not set out to be an educator, but as I discovered my passions and interests, I found that education fit me perfectly. My first job out of college was as a research scientist at a lab studying genetic mutations that lead to drug resistances in the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). When I wasn’t in the lab, I was volunteering with Young Life at a local high school as I had done during my college years. I found that while I enjoyed some aspects of the life of a scientist, the relational side of my personality was not being fulfilled in the lab. Working full-time, I found that I did not have the hours to invest relationally with high school students in Young Life as I did when I was in college. I remember describing this dilemma to a close friend on a fishing trip who was in the middle of his first year of teaching science. He suggested that teaching would be a perfect blend of my love of science and learning and my enjoyment of student ministry, and he was right. My career in education has afforded great opportunity to both positively influence students relationally and share a love for science.
What do you enjoy most when you're in the classroom?
I love the challenge of connecting my students to the material in a meaningful way. I believe that curiosity, wonder, and a desire for discovery exist in all of us, but we don’t have those in equal measure in each subject that we study. Some students feel very confident and others do not, often depending on their past experience with that subject. I seek to create an environment in my class where my students start to ask questions. When good questions start to evolve, I know that meaningful connection to the material is growing. The classroom really comes alive when students start to ask questions that I can’t yet answer.
What do you enjoy most as an administrator?
I love working with teachers and parents to help boys and girls grow and develop into men and women of strength and character. Building lasting relationships to create positive life change has always been a central passion. Second, I really enjoy working on broad, strategic problems that help the school fulfill its mission. I have had the opportunity to work on a number of projects around diversity and inclusion, admissions, and student life that have made lasting and positive community change. These projects are very rewarding and interesting to me.
What position at Wesleyan was most thought provoking and why? Please tell us more about your experience and some things you have accomplished. What are you most proud of, professionally?
Without question, my years serving as the Dean of Diversity pushed me to grow and think deeply about tough issues. Not only was I the first person at my school working directly in this field, but I had no personal experience being a minority in any context. What I did have is a deep conviction that our school was not fulfilling its mission if it was not inclusive of all its members, and that this was a significant loss to both minority and majority members of our community. My first step was to reach out to the minority community at my school and professionals at other area independent schools to learn from them. I am deeply in debt to the many men and women who, with great patience, mentored and helped me develop some skills around identifying and serving the needs of a diverse population of students and families at Wesleyan.
What are you most proud of, personally? What inspires you?
I am incredibly proud of my son and two daughters. They remind me to slow down and appreciate the small, beautiful moments of life. They have great trust and courage. They inspire me to laugh, to be thankful, and to pray.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I really love to be outdoors, and the farther outdoors the better. I grew up hunting and fishing all over Oklahoma. In college I spent several summers guiding backpacking trips in Colorado and Wyoming and have led some backpacking adventures with students since then. I am really hoping to spend more time as a family backpacking in Colorado in future summers.