Nine years ago Principal Jordan Weymer took over the reins as principal of the Donald McKay K-8 School and turned the once failing Boston Public School into one of the top schools in the city.
When Weymer arrived at the McKay in 2013 the school was in the bottom six percent of schools in the state.
In two short years under Weymer’s leadership he and his staff were able to change the school’s culture of learning, its curriculum, and its profile in the neighborhood through innovative teaching and community collaboration.
Two years after he arrived, Weymer’s focus on collaboration both inside and outside the school’s walls helped the McKay emerge in the top tier in the state’s accountability system, surpassing the district average in literacy and math MCAS scores.
The school became known in the BPS community as one that was focused on empowering teachers and students and creating a safe and welcoming environment for its students and families.
“At the heart of all this work is a strategy and “whole student, whole teacher” focus that other schools can learn from,” said Weymer in 2019. “We have built a community where teachers are treated and trusted as the experts they are. They are true decision-makers who feel a collective responsibility to meet the needs of all students and their families, who in turn feel empowered to have a voice in their own education. The core of our improvement has been a collaborative professional culture led by teachers where learning, experimentation and reflection are encouraged. This way forward could be the way forward for the nation.”
Weymer and his staff’s work culminated in 2018 with the McKay being awarded the prestigious EdVestors Thomas W. Payzant School on the Move Prize.
The moment was historic as no Eastie school had ever won the School on the Move prive throughout its history.
“You don’t do this work for the awards, you do it to make a difference but this award just confirms the great work the teachers and kids are doing at our school,” said Weymer after his school won the prize. “We call it our ‘choice and voice’ culture, where we encourage schoolwide engagement among students, teachers and families to determine the best path forward in our individual classrooms. Our school is a reflection of our community, in population and approach. We remain committed to not only improving grades and outcomes for all students, but also to the social and emotional needs of our families and EL students by maintaining a safe and welcoming school community for all.”
With a majority of the McKay’s student population Latino, 60 percent of whom are EL students and more than 50 percent of its students are economically disadvantaged–the McKay refers to their EL students as “Emerging Bilinguals” – emphasizing that their first language is an asset rather than a roadblock. The McKay’s student population is 89 percent Latino, 60 percent of whom are EL students and more than 50 percent of its students are economically disadvantaged. Weymer said this has created an empowering and inclusive atmosphere for all students.
“Congratulations to Principal Jordan Weymer on his nine years of outstanding leadership and service to the Donald McKay School,” said Rep. Adrian Madaro. “His love and passion for uplifting our students, families and educators is evident in all he does. I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
However, seven years into his tenure as principal of the McKay the COVID pandemic hit. Weymer searched for ways to keep students and families engaged and his efforts soon made headlines.
Since Boston Public Schools closed in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Donald Mckay School’s Principal Jordan Weymer has been keeping his students engaged in a very unique way.
While everyone was in isolation and learning remotely, Weymer began going live on his Facebook page, dressing up as characters from his students’ favorite books and hosting a virtual ‘storytime’.
Week after week Weymer could be found online dressed like Mr. Falker, the title character from “Thank You, Mr. Falker” by Patricia Polacco or in purple garb as he read “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson, in an elephant hat for “I Will Take a Nap”, or paper scales for “The Rainbow Fish”, or a bear mask for “Corduroy”. He would also have a little help from his son, Eli, while holding an umbrella and reading “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs”.
“Mr. Weymer is an amazing leader,” said Kelly Carlson. “His story time and costumes to match were such a nice way to start the day at the beginning of remote learning. The kids were lucky to have such a caring principal. We wish him all the luck in his new position.”
While Jonquille Ambroise added, “Thank you for all that you’ve done Mr. Weymer. You are so appreciated beyond words.”
Mary Denehy Sheran said while losing Weymer is a huge blow to Eastie it will be a huge benefit for the next school he serves.
“Best of luck Mr. Weymer, any school that gets you is so lucky,” said Sheran. “The Donald McKay hit the jackpot with you at its helm. Best part is my daughter Kaylene benefited from your awesome leadership. Best of wishes. So many of us will miss you.”