From Student to Principal

July 25, 2018

Fewer than 3 percent of Massachusetts’ school principals are under the age of 30, but as the recently named principal of New Hingham Regional Elementary School, 25-year-old MCLA alumnus Jesse McMillan ’14, M.Ed ’17 is one of them.

It’s just the latest in a series of accomplishments. McMillan landed his first job before he earned his undergraduate degree teaching English literature and writing to students in grades 10 through 12. The following year, he accepted a 6th grade English and social studies position in Pittsfield Public Schools.

“For the past three years, the administration in Pittsfield supported me in becoming an educational leader,” McMillan said. That support included a year-long internship where he spent a significant amount of time at the elementary level. “This is when I knew that I eventually wanted to be at the helm of an elementary school.”

McMillan emerged from 16 applicants for the principal position, many of whom already were principals, so he had to think deeply about what would separate him from the rest. The answer came as a result of his studies with MCLA’s Leadership Academy, which he will complete in August.

“Many universities throughout the state that prepare students to become school leaders offer the typical course sequence to meet regulations, but MCLA’s Leadership Academy does so in a way unlike any other,” he said. “I was encouraged to think deeply about topics, ideas and issues that administrators face today and how I, as a leader, would work to solve certain challenges and foster lifelong learning among staff and students. All of the experiences in my classes, principal internship, and time in the classroom have helped me to define my ‘why,’ which is what separated me from the other candidates.”

McMillan next will pursue his Ph.D. in educational leadership.