An Advocate for Classroom Creativity and Relationship-Building

A discussion with administrator and author, Dr. Jacie Maslyk

This interview was originally published on edCircuit

Dr. Jacie Maslyk is assistant superintendent of the Hopewell Area School District in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, as well as a published author and education speaker. She will be a featured presenter at the 2020 Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC), this coming January in Miami, where she will lead six different sessions.

Dr. Maslyk is a true believer in relationships, finding them a vital component of the learning process. Harkening back to her early education, Maslyk points to the enthusiasm of one particular chemistry teacher that not only sparked her interest in science but education as well.

“We had this sense that he cared about us. Whether chemistry was something I was interested in, he made me interested in it because he connected with me and made sure that I understood the concepts. He found ways to build a relationship with me that made me want to learn.”

Maslyk takes that same enthusiasm for building relationships into her professional development work. “I make sure that the professional development that I provide within my home district is personalized. [I make sure] there are opportunities for teachers to talk and connect. I don’t have a very large school district, but there are people in our district who work in one building who don’t know people in the other building, and that’s a huge concern for me. I’m always building in ways for them to have conversations to connect around ideas that they’re passionate about. It’s also the way I plan the PD outside my district,” she says.

When designing sessions, Dr. Maslyk looks to make them very hands-on. She is interested in STEAM and maker education and looks for creative tie-ins wherever possible. These are topics that she will be examining during her sessions at FETC 2020. She is excited about infusing technology in innovative ways during her sessions but points to avoiding technology as the center point. “I want the teachers, leaders and tech coaches who are within those sessions to have face-to-face conversations about what’s working in their school or their district and the connections that they have made outside their school community.”

She tries to make sessions engaging by using a little bit of technology, so everybody walks away with what she refers to as a “little nugget of goodness.” But more importantly, she sees the importance of critical face-to-face conversations. It’s important that people connect from different states and get to know one another and share social media platforms. She is aware of all facets involved in the relationship-building process during the session experience.

Recently, Dr. Maslyk has heightened her passion for writing, whether it’s books or blogs, and she continues to embark on new literary adventures. Her latest endeavor is a joint effort with a teacher in her district that details the relationship between an educator and a school district leader. As she adds, “I think it’s a unique angle. There aren’t any books out there that tell both of those stories. We’re hoping to share that with everyone and throw out [the idea] that just because she’s a teacher and I’m a leader doesn’t mean we don’t have a relationship that not only can help each other learn and grow, but also sets a great model for kids.”

About Dr. Jacie Maslyk

Dr. Maslyk is the Assistant Superintendent in the Hopewell Area School District in Pennsylvania. Prior to her leadership role, she worked as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, elementary school principal, and Director of Elementary Education.

She has presented at the local, state, and national levels on many topics, including STEAM education and the Maker Movement. Active in educational organizations, she has served as an Editorial Advisor for the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Principal Magazine and published a number of articles on school leadership, the Common Core, and effective classroom instruction. Dr. Maslyk also blogs for the International Literacy Association (ILA) and volunteers on several ILA committees.

Dr. Maslyk was recognized as a National Distinguished Principal finalist in Pennsylvania in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, she was awarded the Frank S. Manchester Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals (PAESSP). She is also the author of STEAMMakers; Fostering Creating and Innovation in the Elementary Classroom, a book focused on incorporating hands-on learning into our instruction.

Follow Dr. Jacie Maslyk on Twitter