Photo by Nathan Grimm
New Roxana High School Principal Jason Dandurand, 41, began his career teaching at the Alton School District’s alternative school after graduating from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He spent the past four years as Columbia High School’s principal before accepting the Roxana job this summer.
ROXANA — It was a feeling — and, of course, an open principal position — that led Jason Dandurand back to the Riverbend.
Dandurand, 41, was named the new principal of Roxana High School in April. After starting his career in the Alton School District in 1999, the new role, and his return to the area, has been a long time coming.
“I just felt a calling to come back and work with this population of students, to work in this community,” Dandurand said. “It’s just been a great transition back here.”
Dandurand is originally from the South Chicago Heights area in northern Illinois, and he began his career teaching at the alternative school in the Alton district after graduating from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. In 2001, Dandurand became dean of students at Alton High School, and he was named assistant principal at the school in 2005.
An opportunity to become principal of Columbia High School in Columbia, Ill., led him south in 2012. He spent the past four years in Columbia before accepting the Roxana job this summer.
“Great experience,” Dandurand said of the Columbia High job. “It taught me a lot about the high school principalship. Great community. Great kids. Great faculty. And just a great learning experience for me.”
It was that experience that, in part, made him an attractive candidate for the position, Roxana Superintendent Debra Kreutztrager said.
“Mr. Dandurand’s education, successful administrative experience, and passion to serve others make him an ideal fit for the Roxana School District,” Kreutztrager said. “His genuine desire to positively impact our students and community is undeniable. Mr. Dandurand is an excellent educator and leader and is a great addition to the Roxana School District.”
One of the first things Dandurand will target in his new role is the school’s graduation rate. Last year, Roxana had an 83 percent graduation rate, according to the website Illinois Report Card, lower than the state rate of 86 percent. Over the past five years, the district’s graduation rate has averaged 77.2 percent.
“When I saw the statistics they were a little bit alarming, but definitely with this faculty … I think we can make great strides in improving our attendance and graduation rates,” Dandurand said.
Dandurand mentioned the Capturing Kids’ Hearts initiatives, training that helps teachers and students have success in the classroom, and fostering a positive culture and climate as tools to achieving those goals.
He also mentioned Jon Gordon’s book “The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy” as a reference. The book’s teachings, Dandurand said, will help “catapult that positive culture and climate throughout our buildings, not only at the high school but districtwide.”
“I’m just excited about the work ahead as the high school principal,” Dandurand said. “Long term, it’s just continuing to do what’s best for kids in the Roxana School District and at Roxana Senior High School, making sure we’re cultivating their college and career readiness — getting them to cross that stage.”
Dandurand lives in the area with his wife, Aubrey, and their two children: daughter Elsy, 9; and son Coen, who turns 2 next month.