Jason Trumble ’92, a graduate of the Ithaca College history department who has spent more than 20 years working for the Ithaca City School District, was recently made principal of Ithaca High School after serving close to three months as interim principal for outgoing principal Jarret Powers.
Contributing Writer Eddie Dowd spoke with Trumble to discuss his new position, the school’s graduation rate and the community spirit.
Eddie Dowd: In the 23 years you have worked for the Ithaca City School District as a social studies teacher, and cross-country/track coach, did you ever think you would become the principal of Ithaca High School?
Jason Trumble: So I taught at Ithaca High School for 11 years, never ever ever saw this in my future. A number of colleagues talked to me about going into administration. When I finished my administrative degree in the evenings, I was placed over at Boynton Middle School as the associate principal. I think the minute I was placed in Boynton, the staff had long made notions that “Maybe he’s being prepared to go back to Ithaca High School,” but that was never really on my radar. I wanted to build the Boynton community to a strong, inclusive, small-town feel, and I loved my time there. So no, my goal was not to be the IHS principal.
ED: As principal, what do you see your duties as?
JT: As principal, I need to be the instructional leader in this building. I need to understand what the exit outcomes are for students, that all of our students have opportunities and access to great classes, and a wide variety of coursework. Being in the college town that we are in, the community’s expectations are very high at Ithaca High School. They expect students to be accurately prepared for a high level of college. Over 90 percent of our students go on to four-year schools (sic). We have a graduation rate of 91 percent, which far exceeds what graduation rates are compared to the rest of the state, to the rest of the nation … Our staff is very invested in our students and their outcome of success.
ED: You’ve been on the job for a few months now. What are some things you see successful at the high school, and what are some things you think can be improved?
JT: Students are not treated as a number here. We put faces to data around here. We know exactly what courses students need to pass, and we put the supports in place for that. I’m astounded by the level of detail that our teachers take with our students, if students don’t meet particular academic thresholds. We may place them in an academic lab [or] have academic supports for them after school. So there’s always somebody plugged into a child, and I don’t think the broader community understands that. What I think we continue to struggle with is an overall sense of identity. Is there one uniform thing that we’re all after here at IHS? To say that everybody’s going to be successful and graduate is a great goal, but what do we really value here?
ED: What are your hopes for students of Ithaca High School in the future?
JT: I want students to have such a sense of belonging that they want to come back for reunions, that they want to give back to their school, that they want to continue to keep track of the school. Whether you’re a student that has graduated a year ago or one that has graduated 45 years ago, that they continue to keep track of what’s going on here.