First-year principal has one ‘Peck’ of a year!

Katy O’Grady-Pyne / Journal — CJHS principal Jim Peck had a memorable first year as the school’s principal. He said it felt like two different school years.

For his first year as principal at Clinton Junior High School, Jim Peck got one to remember!

After serving as assistant principal at CJHS for three years, he was promoted to lead the school during a pandemic that shuttered businesses and schools across the country. 

There was no administrative handbook for running a school during a national health crisis, so like everyone else, Peck had to wing it. 

“This year kind of felt like two different school years,” said Peck. “There was the focus on re-opening and staying here as long as we could (in the fall) for our in-person learners,” but due to the number of student absences due to Covid exposure, the district decided to return to full remote learning from Thanksgiving break through the end of 2020.

“We don’t believe we had any transmissions here,” said Peck, “but we were up in the 70s and 80s for absences in this building alone due to exposures.” 

“Every day was something new,” said Peck, “but it was always geared back toward re-opening the schools.”

“We really prepared—in September and October--for how remote learning would work,” said Peck. “By the time we had to do it, we were ready—even if we didn’t know it--to make it as good as possible.”

The majority of students returned to in-person learning in January 2021 and the remainder of the school year was “pretty normal.” 

Athletics returned and some field trips occurred, “so we were able to do some normal stuff second semester.”

Despite a school year different than any other, Peck said his first year at the helm was “rewarding.”

Junior high school is now Peck’s niche, but he said it wasn’t always that way. 

In college, Peck thought he wanted to teach high school but after some early classroom observations, he wasn’t sure that would be the best fit. He later observed middle school students and realized he could have a bigger impact on them. 

• See the complete story in the Friday, July 2, print edition of the Clinton Journal or now in the Journal E-Edition.                          

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