‘A really good fit’

Published 9:20 am Friday, September 14, 2012

Jason Senne is taking a new position in the Austin School District, as her replaces Katie Berglund as principal of Ellis Middle School. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Longtime district employee looks to future as Ellis principal

For Jason Senne, coming to Ellis Middle School is a bit of déjà vu.

Senne — who replaces Katie Berglund as principal at Ellis after Berglund left the district in August — worked as a teacher, dean of students and athletic director at Ellis from 2005 to 2008. Not only that, he’s worked at schools across the district since 1996.

“Having worked at the high school and having an understanding of that, having worked at the elementaries and having an understanding there, I think this is a really good fit for me,” he said.

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Yet Senne is also no stranger to administration, as he was Austin High School’s assistant principal up until last month. He credits his time at Ellis with forming leadership skills, specifically the emphasis he places on building relationships with students, and getting to know and work with them, as well as their parents.

Now that he’s in charge of a building, he’s ready to lead the middle school into the future.

“The beginning of this school year went great,” he said. “The site team had a wonderful plan they had already put in place.”

Senne is in charge of coordinating Ellis’s curriculum shift as the new I.J. Holton fifth- and sixth-grade school opens next year.


One of his priorities will be forming Ellis’s educational vision, as Ellis may have to adapt some science, technology engineering, arts, and mathematical (STEAM) concepts to help students transition from elementary and middle school to high school.

“That’s going to be important to continue that flow,” he said.

That means he’ll work with Holton Principal Jean McDermott and Holton and Ellis staff to work as part of the redesign team. Senne said he and McDermott are planning to discuss transitions with other middle schools throughout the state, and he said Ellis officials should have an idea what the schedule will look like for Ellis’s new seventh- and eighth-grade school system this December, while fine-tuning details such as staffing and curriculum will take place this spring.

Senne will still work through this year’s challenges in the meantime, which includes a building over student capacity once again. Senne said some teachers are sharing classrooms this year and while the new school will decrease Ellis’s student population next year, Senne expects Ellis to be at capacity, or at more than 900 students, in the near future.

“It’s going to be tight again,” he said. “We’re not designing for the 13-14 school year, we’re going to be designing for the future of Ellis.”

Yet Senne’s most important job will be to continue to push teachers to do well in the classroom and make sure students know they’re important at Ellis.

“We care about [students]. We want them to do well,” he said. “We want them to succeed. We want them to go out and do things not only for themselves, but for our communities and for their families.”