NEJC Faces: John McKinney, SM East principal


By Tommy Sherk

What has been going on at the school over summer?
John McKinney:The main thing that we have going on right now at East is the construction. The front entryway has made some really great progress. I was concerned about that because, as we all know, on the 12th, 400 kids are going to show up. On the 13th, another 1,200. That front entryway was essential to the whole thing. But just in this last week, they’ve made a lot of progress. The cafeteria is also a big project- it’s being expanded, updated… it looks amazing.

On the new security implementations
JM: It’s all about keeping kids safe. I know I say that a lot of times and there’s only so many ways to say it- that’s the number one thing we have to do. All the MacBooks and teachers, football or athletics… none of that means anything if the kids aren’t safe. I know people don’t like change, especially when they perceive it as an inconvenience. Part of my job is to reteach students and adults that this is an inconvenience, but it’s important and worthwhile.

What mindset should a student have entering this year?
JM: Oh, excited. I’m biased, but this is an amazing school with a great staff, fantastic administration, great students- bright, gifted, talented, amazing students, professional educators who love teaching and love their subject. You’ve got an administration that is committed to not only academics, but creating an environment that’s conducive to whatever your interests are, whether that’s athletics, debate, or art or music. I think we’ve got a whole group of people in this building who are excited about students returning and committed to making sure that we have a fantastic year. And that we send seniors off into the world ready, prepared for whatever lies ahead. In addition to that, with Superintendent Hinson’s guidance, we’ve got a district leadership team that is has invigorated district administrators, has empowered the district teachers. They’ve set a vision for us that is really exciting. For parents and students, I hope that they feel excitement about what lies ahead. I hope that they know that they’re in the hands of caring professional adults who are committed to their success in whatever area they choose to pursue. My own daughter is coming next year, so I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t believe it. I feel like she’s coming into the best school with the best teachers and the best kids.