Jesse McMillan, a Principal and MCLA Education Grad, Returns to Teach

Jesse McMillanAs a kid, Jesse McMillan played “school” with his friends. As a young adult, he knew he would pursue a career in education. Now, he’s a principal at New Hingham Elementary School in Chesterfield, Mass.—and MCLA helped him move forward on his educational journey.

McMillan is a triple graduate of MCLA—he majored in education as an undergrad and finished his degree in 2014, graduated with a master’s degree in education in 2017, and is a 2018 alum of Leadership Academy, which prepares educators to become effective school administrators. He’ll even be back this fall to teach an undergrad/graduate course in education, Reading in the Content Area.

“MCLA will always have a special place in my heart and I see this as an opportunity to give back,” he said.

As a principal, McMillan tries to focus on communication and collaboration—evident in his Facebook updates on the “Principal McMillan” Facebook page. “In my role as principal, I have the ability to inspire and foster collective educator efficacy, the shared belief that we, as educators, can positively impact students through our daily work,” he said. “In order to do this, staff and students need praise, support, inspiration, resources, autonomy, and shared accountability.”

McMillan is an experienced English teacher—he started his career at Hoosac Valley High School in Adams, Mass., and taught at Reid Middle School in Pittsfield for years before becoming a Hampshire Regional School District School Committee member and ultimately New Hingham’s principal in 2018 (he also served as acting superintendent of the district in fall 2020 during a transition period). While he misses having a classroom of his own, “I have the unique opportunity to visit each classroom for a period of time every day and see all the kiddos, which I love,” he said.

There are 40 staff members at McMillan’s school. “As a teacher, my role was to directly assist my students in becoming more effective readers, writers, speakers, and listeners. Now, my role is to assist staff members in enhancing their craft, ultimately impacting students,” he said. “I’m also the "go-to" person for just about everything in the school: staff and student schedules, curricula, parent compliments or complaints, student successes and challenges, school committee relations, budget and grants, facilities management, emergencies, and more.”

MCLA’s approach to education and administration helped prepare McMillan for all this. “MCLA creates rigorous programs and opportunities that place a strong emphasis on instructional leadership, integrating both theory and practice, while also providing the necessary time and support to engage in meaningful internships with hands-on leadership opportunities,” he said. “I highly recommend MCLA's educational programs to anyone interested in being encouraged to think deeply and critically about the practice, challenging their own ideas about what it means to serve as an effective teacher and leader.”

McMillan said he’s very fulfilled in his current role at New Hingham, and loves that he gets to influence the school’s culture and direction while he’s at its helm. “I can promote the idea that everyone is responsible for the learning of others,” he said. “Each member must play an active role as teacher and learner, leader and follower, and speaker and listener. In response to this shared responsibility, we are able to move in the direction of creating a more positive and productive climate that ultimately leads to a collective effort focused on increasing the impact of learning in our classrooms.”