A college service project with the Boys and Girls Club led Jake Schmitz into school leadership, and ultimately to helping other principals improve their own schools.
“It led me to better understand the education gap and what that looked like for minority students in poor neighborhoods,” Schmitz says, “It opened my eyes about getting into education.”
That experience as a college student at the University of Kansas inspired Schmitz to enter Teach for America, and then, to become the founding English teacher of YES Prep Public Schools’ Gulfton campus in Houston. After serving as grade level chair, dean of students, and ultimately, school director of the Gulfton campus, Schmitz moved to Kansas City, where as school leader of KIPP Endeavor, he grew the school’s enrollment as it moved from probationary status to full accreditation from the state. It was at KIPP that Schmitz first encountered SchoolWorks during a site visit conducted at his school.
“They gave us great feedback and really helped us to improve—and not only in the small window of the site visit,” he says. “There were things I took from that visit that I used every year going forward.”
When Schmitz decided to step back from being a principal, SchoolWorks was his first call. “I felt like having been on the other side of the table, I could connect with other principals,” Schmitz says. “Being a thought partner in that collaboration piece really resonated with me.”
As a consultant and project manager with SchoolWorks, Schmitz has participated in and led School Quality Reviews in Denver, Chicago, and Cleveland. He has also served as a team writer and lead for SchoolWorks’ Personalized Learning Site Visits in Georgia and Dallas. He credits SchoolWorks for developing strong protocols that help schools improve. “There’s evidence-based criteria we’re looking for,” he says. “I appreciate the specificity and consistency.”