Mill Valley News: Describe something on your desk or in your office that has special meaning to you?
Assistant principal Deb Jaeger: So this is actually a football quote by Jimmie Johnson. [It says], ‘the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is a little extra.’ So it’s showing up five minutes early for a meeting or staying until the job’s done, or studying that little bit extra, doing all the things people don’t want to do. And I think it totally pays off every single time. So he’s just always said that it’s not just athletics, I think it’s great in life in general. Yeah, so those little bits of extra details are important. But that is my favorite thing because it’s just a reminder to always do a little bit more.
MVN: What is your background?
DJ: This is my 26th year, I started out as a special education teacher. I thought I wanted to teach second grade and realized no, I like older kids. I have a master’s in special education because I have a passion for that. And then my other Master’s is in educational leadership so that I can be a principal.”
MVN: What made you want to go into special education?
DJ: “I found that when I student taught students in the second-grade classroom, over half of the class had special needs. I just saw that there was a great opportunity there to help students. That’s why I went back and got my master’s in special education because I wanted to get more training on how to help, and what I realized is, all those things I learned, it’s good for all students. My first job was special education, and I loved it because it was a smaller class size, so you can really be intentional and individualize with students. Then when I switched and taught English, it was nice because the skills that I used to help all the students in those classes, I was able to transfer that over. So for me, it was a win-win.”
MVN: What goals do you have for the school?
DJ: “You guys are pretty amazing. And that’s why I came [to the school]. Every single person when I visited with them bragged about the students here, honestly. So I want to build on the great things you’ve already done, like always improving our ACT scores, because that helps you with college scholarships. I really just want to serve students and staff here, my job is just to help you guys get better every single day.”
MVN: Why did you decide to work at the school?
DJ: “Number one, the kids are awesome. They’re just very friendly, welcoming and helpful. The very first groups I met because it was in the summer were some of the band kids and the cross country kids and the football kids, and they just were introducing themselves and shaking my hand and that’s not what I’m used to. So that was very nice. And then the second thing I noticed was the staff is like one big family. They just really enjoy each other and a lot of them have been here forever. And they have no plans to leave, they just really love it. So that was encouraging.”
MVN: What is your favorite thing about the school so far?
DJ: “I think my favorite thing is I just feel like I belong. I feel right at home, and it’s been a month, which is not very long, but I just feel really at home because everybody’s been so welcoming.”
MVN: What was your favorite subject in school? Why?
DJ: “English, because I just love to talk about literature. It’s just fun to me. I loved band a lot. I played the trumpet all through school. And then my third favorite was debate and forensics. Oh yeah, I thought that was really fun.”
MVN: What do you like to do outside of school?
DJ: “I love to travel. I love to just plan vacations in particular, that’s really fun for me. Our goal is for my kids to see all 50 states. We’re getting close, we’re at about 41.”
MVN: What has been your favorite place to travel to?
DJ: “Alaska, would be one, because to actually walk on a glacier, I think that’s like a bucket list thing. That was awesome and they’re kind of bluish, I was surprised, I thought they’d be clear. So that was awesome. And then I would say that’s kind of tied with Florida. It was just awesome. I really like theme parks too. We did Universal, Disney, all of that, and that was just really good family time.”
MVN: Is there anything you’re worried about for the upcoming school year?
DJ: “Well I just hope we get to stay in school, I mean everybody’s in that, because I feel like in person, learning is better for everybody, not just my own kids, but for me, so I just definitely want us to stay in school all year.”