20 Under 40 recipient Jeffrey L. Ginger talks leadership in the North Country.

 

Jeffery L. Ginger loves new experiences and challenges, which is what made transitioning from his role as a teacher to an administrator at Watertown High School so easy.

“It wasn’t difficult to change because I was ready for a change,” Mr. Ginger said. “There’s not a day I’ve questioned the decision.”

Mr. Ginger started his teaching career in 2002 as a seventh grade social studies teacher at Case Middle School for six months. He then moved to Watertown High School, his alma mater, to teach U.S. history.

Watertown is Mr. Ginger’s hometown but he has not been here his whole life.

He attended SUNY Geneseo for undergraduate studies and started working on a master’s degree in American studies at SUNY Oswego.

Then in 2004, being still young and always looking for new experiences, Mr. Ginger left the country for London with his girlfriend, who is now his wife.

He finished his master’s in American studies in London at King’s College in 2005. He came back in September of that year to teach again where it all began.

“I acquired a whole wealth of unique personal and learning experiences I could bring back to the students here,” Mr. Ginger said. “I think that is important because not a lot of students here get the opportunity for world traveling.”

After several years of service as an accomplished teacher, swimming coach and student council advisor, Mr. Ginger took on the challenge of being an administrative intern and was later promoted to an assistant principal post at Watertown High School in 2013.

“In many ways I am still a teacher. I am here to support teachers and help students learn,” he said. “I strive to think like a teacher. That is central to how I handle my position.”

He said he jumped right into his new position with little difficulty.

“Some of the ease in transitioning has to do with my personality. I like new experiences and challenges,” Mr. Ginger said. “I think it is important to be a lifelong learner.”

Students will see Mr. Ginger in the hallways with a smile on his face almost every day as they transition between classes.

“I say ‘hello’ to students. And every positive interaction helps to make a great learning and working environment,” Mr. Ginger said.

He said being visual is one part of how he works to make the school run smoothly.

“Students do not want to break the rules,” Mr. Ginger said. “My philosophy is if communication is clear and rules and my decisions are consistent then students are more likely to behave.”

In his first year as assistant principal, Mr. Ginger and the administrative team made big changes in how the high school is run including a new cell phone policy which allows students to use them in certain parts of the building, to teach responsible use.

Mr. Ginger now lives with his wife of nine years, Brenna, who teaches 11th grade English in Watertown, and their three children, Emerson, 7, and Clara and Adele, who are two-year old twins, in an old farm house in Adams Center.

The farm house, which is certainly livable but needs a lot of work, said Mr. Ginger, is a new challenge for him.

“I’m a closet handyman. I never used to be a handy man, but I learned how to do some things over the last few years,” Mr. Ginger said. “People would be surprised I love plumbing.”

Aside from his role as an assistant principal Mr. Ginger is also active in the larger Northern New York community through his work on the Herring College Trust Board, which provides the Herring College Memorial Scholarship to Northern New York students.

Mr. Ginger said he has a few new challenges left in his

future, including his hope to one day be a building

principal.

“I take on new challenges as they come. I really like my

current job,” Mr. Ginger said. “Right now I’m focused mostly on trying to raise my children right. That’s my current challenge.”

— Richard Moody

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