July 18, 2024

East Union names interim principal for 2024-25 year

Jason Riley stands outside the entrance to the middle/high school where he will take the role of interim principal for the 2024-25 school year.

AFTON - After 20 years of working within East Union, Jason Riley has been named the new interim principal and will help lead the middle and high school for the 2024-25 year before a replacement is found sometime next January or February.

“I love to learn about learning,” said Riley. “I’m really focused on how people learn and how they learn best. How do we set up this environment that promotes learning?”

Riley has seen the ins and outs of the East Union schooling system, from graduating in 1992 to his return as a fifth-grade teacher in 2004. Since then, he’s been a staple at East Union.

“I bleed blue,” said Riley. “This place has been a major part of my life, even my adult life... I love this school, and I want what’s absolutely best for it at all times.”

Riley is a father of three and has been married for 28 years, with all three of his daughters graduating from East Union. His parents graduated from East Union as well.

After graduating, Riley wasn’t sure what the next part of his career would be. “I’m an example of those people where, when you graduate you don’t know what you want to do,” said Riley. “I didn’t, I needed a little bit of time to figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I think having kids really guided that desire to work with kids.”

Wellman Dynamics was Riley’s job following high school, but after a layoff, Riley returned to schooling at Buena Vista University to receive a teaching license. After finding a job in his hometown as a fifth-grade teacher, he taught middle-school social science, coached the middle-school basketball, middle and high-school softball and football and then worked in teacher leadership. This led to Riley working directly with teachers, including most recently as a curriculum director.

Riley now has a bachelor’s in education, a master’s in effective teaching and instructional leadership and another degree in educational leadership which led to Riley now being qualified for a principalship.

Following the resignation of former principal Bill Meiners two weeks into May, Riley was presented with the opportunity to serve as the interim principal for the next year. Riley and East Union superintendent Tim Kuehl had discussed the possibility as the best option for East Union’s future.

If East Union were to hold interviews for the principal position in the summer, a new principal would be introduced to the school with little knowledge of the teaching environments and low familiarity with the district. The delay in hiring will help make the transition process for the next East Union principal easier.

“It’s not the optimal time, we want the best possible candidate pool for the position,” said Riley. “I’m already familiar with the administration...if I take the position, we can keep the bus moving.”

When describing the way he teaches and works with students, Riley made it clear what students should be working toward. “I am a person where I set expectations and I work with kids to make sure they can meet them,” he said. “I’m very clear what I expect of them, there’s not a lot of variance.”

“I think that a lot of kids like and need structure. They need to know here’s the box you live in, here’s how you perform the best in that.”

Riley was one of the individuals who spoke at both of the public forums dedicated to the four-day school week, using his time to speak about his fellow teachers, national attendance policies causing issues at East Union and giving the public a look at how the front office has been dealing with certain issues.

Nick Pauly

News Reporter for Creston News Advertiser. Raised and matured in the state of Iowa, Nick Pauly developed a love for all forms of media, from books and movies to emerging forms of media such as video games and livestreaming.