Right now they stand empty, but it won't be long before lockers are crammed and the halls are bustling with students.
As Lake County ushers in the new school year on August 24, Mount Dora Middle School will be welcoming a new principal, Jacob Stein. The school's new top administrator is a former teacher in Mount Dora and answered a few questions for Mount Dora Buzz to help the community get re-acquainted with him.
MD BUZZ: What do you feel are the 2 greatest challenges facing Middle School students in general? JS: I feel that the two greatest challenges facing middle schools students are themselves – deciding who they are and deciding how they want to be perceived. Also, I believe organization and balance are a struggle for middle schoolers. They are beginning more extra- curricular activities while having more homework. They are trying to develop more of a social side and this can be tough to balance all of that with school.
MD BUZZ: What are the 2 greatest challenges facing Mount Dora Middle School? JS:I feel the two greatest challenges that face Mount Dora Middle School faces are improving on FSA and EOC Assessments while supporting the whole student and developing a school culture where discipline is minimal.
MD BUZZ: How did your previous position prepare you for these challenges? JS:I believe all of my previous positions have prepared me to be the principal at Mt. Dora Middle School. I have been in the district for 18 years and taught both at Eustis Middle School and Mt. Dora High School before going into administration. I spent four years at Windy Hill Middle School as an assistant principal and the last five years as an assistant principal at East Ridge High School.
MD BUZZ: What do you like most about working with this age of students? JS:I enjoy seeing the students grow from kids into young men and women.
MD BUZZ: Middle School age can be difficult, how will stay personally connected with students? JS:I believe you stay connected with the students by being very visible at the school, but also by supporting them in the community, whether that be attending their sport events, drama productions, city parades or festivals. You need to build a school culture of caring and support for the students.
MD BUZZ: What is your philosophy to keep a positive, learning atmosphere for the students? JS:I truly believe that students need to know that you care and support them while treating them with respect. However, when discipline does occur you need to be fair and consistent and make sure they realize that this a consequence for their behavior not just punishment.
MD BUZZ: In addition to a new principal, what other changes will there be this Fall at the school? JS:In addition to a new principal and new teachers, the students will have an opportunity to participate in an after school program that will provide extra-curricular activities as well as tutoring for no charge. The program will provide the students the opportunity to explore a variety of activities in the evenings from 4:15-to 6:15 with transportation home being provided. MD BUZZ: What is the school's estimated enrollment for this fall? JS: 825
MD BUZZ: Have you had a chance to explore Mount Dora? JS:I am familiar with the culture that Mount Dora has to offer since I was actively involved in the community while I taught at Mount Dora High School and I look forward to being part of the community again.