5 Questions with… Jay Billy

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in #satchatwc, which was facilitated by Principal Jay Billy. During the chat, Jay led educators in sharing their favorite quotes and graphics to both inspire and motivate those involved. I walked away feeling refreshed and with a renewed purpose for improvement. We are fortunate and proud to have Jay Billy share his insight with us in this week’s 5 Questions with… feature.

5 Questions with… Jay Billy

1. What do you most want your students to take with them from your classroom, school or district?

As the principal, I want my students to take a love of learning. I want them to find school enjoyable and look forward to coming each and every day. I want them to be curious and inspired to find out more about anything that interests them. I want them to feel comfortable stepping outside of their comfort zones and trying new things. Most of all, I want our students to become productive members of society and think globally about making this world a better place.

2. What are the most rewarding and/or the most frustrating aspects of education?

The most rewarding aspect of education for me is that it is constantly changing yet it stays the same. We want our students to learn to read, write, do math and think in order to make this a better world. When I see a student have that ‘aha’ moment in a classroom or I see a teacher take a risk and try something new, and then it works… it makes me smile. I love to see innovation and outside-of-the-box thinking and I’m continually learning from the students, teachers and colleagues.

The most frustrating aspect of education is probably the move toward standardized testing. I understand the need to have goals, set standards, and measure teacher effectiveness. I just don’t think we have found the best ways yet. The time spent discussing the test and the intricacies of taking the test has taken so much time away from discussions on instruction and learning. Our focus should be on getting better at what we do. Testing and standardization don’t do that for me. It doesn’t do that for the students either. We need to find a better way.

3. What advice would you give to young teachers?

Strive for greatness. If you are striving for greatness, you are continually growing and getting better. Take advantage of every minute you have to observe other teachers, learn new things, and read the most recent research. Build your toolbox of pedagogy and refine your practices. Connect with as many educators as you can through your PLN and never stop learning. Be humble, yet strong in your convictions and always, always focus on what is best for kids.

4. What has influenced your career the most?

This is an interesting question. I have had many mentors in my career who I think have played a strong part in who I am as an educator but the question is “what”. To answer what has influenced my career I’d have to say my competitive nature and work ethic I developed as an athlete when I was young. I don’t like to lose and I am able to focus on a goal and work tirelessly toward that goal. I am driven to succeed and have found that I can lead others with the same goals in mind. I also have been lucky enough to work with amazing and brilliant people who helped guide me along the way.

5. As an educator, what are you currently focused on?

As an elementary principal in a Title 1 school, my focus continues to be on literacy. Many of our students do not have the background knowledge or the vocabulary that some of their counterparts have when they enter school. We need to help build that vocabulary, develop their understanding of the world outside our district, and make school a place where they feel safe and positive. Our school is really focused on helping our students develop a love of reading and books in order to make them life-long readers and learners. Students who read are students who are successful on the next level and in the world.


Jay Billy is a K-3 Elementary Principal at Slackwood Elementary School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.  He is passionate about teaching and learning and the use of technology in the 21st century classroom. He also is passionate about literacy and student engagement. Jay has been in administration for over 20 years and has worked at all levels from College to preschool. His blog is Just One Principal’s Thoughts. You can connect with him on Twitter: @JayBilly2.

Mr. Billy has five children and lives in Manville, NJ.

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