Personalized learning, psychological safety the focus of Chief Student Advocacy Officer
Dr. Jason Germain brings school, Special Education, and clinical experience to Cabinet
Growing up in a family of educators, Dr. Jason Germain promised himself that he would not follow in the same footsteps.
"My parents were both teachers and my father also an administrator. Although I vowed to never work in education, I ended up here anyway," Germain said with a laugh.
In 2004, Germain started his career at Mountain Vista High School and DCS Montessori Charter School as a school psychologist and later worked in the district special education office coordinating out of district placements. With the exception of a short year-long assignment as Program Director for the Griffith Center for Children's residential treatment center for boys, he has been with Douglas County since then holding positions in central office special education as a special education director and principal at Plum Creek Academy.
"I'm fortunate to have had a diverse experience in education," and "I have a great respect for every student that I have had the opportunity to serve," Germain added.
He says the one constant everywhere he has worked within the District is the passion and skill of his colleagues.
"Everyday I work with people who are just phenomenal at what they do in the District. Those interactions are what drive me to get better and hopefully complement them as we get even better as a team" Germain said.
"It comes down to having great people doing great work with kids on a daily basis," Germain said.
In addition to his school mental health background, Germain also brings clinical experience to the position. He is a licensed psychologist in the state of Colorado and has a small outpatient practice in Littleton that he established in 2005. He says seeing a few patients on weekends, not only prompts him to keep updated on the latest in psychology, but provides a different viewpoint to his work in DCSD.
"It provides me with a clinical lens to the mental health work that we're doing in the district," Germain said.
Recently the District announced that safety will be added as the first of four priorities within the District's Strategic Plan. As a result, there is renewed focus on not only physical safety at our schools, but also psychological safety. Germain is in the process of building a psychological safety framework, which would support the efforts of school psychologists, student wellness and crisis teams.
"We're moving forward with a blueprint for how we define psychological safety in our district" Germain said. "Having a culture of psychological safety is key as we move forward as a District and welcome kids into our buildings."
This will include the creation of high quality professional development for staff and differentiated learning opportunities for students, so that both can learn about psychological safety and build skills that will ultimately help our district provide a psychologically safe environment for all. It will be imperative that everyone understands their role and contribution to this effort.
He says schools do not need to be sold on the importance of the work, but he does hope to help provide them with support, so they can make it a priority.
"I think all of our buildings recognize the importance," Germain said. "Oftentimes in education, we get caught up in the day-to-day grind of what is best for students, in that specific moment in time. What I would like to accomplish is keeping psychological safety on their radar, but also expanding the consistency by which we engage in those practices and making sure that all of our buildings prioritize psychological safety as we move forward."
The other aspect of Germain's position is personalized learning, which will include Early Childhood Education, Special Education, Gifted and Talented, English as a Second Language, Health Services, school counselors, and Homeless Liaison, all of which work to personalize learning to the specific needs of our students.
"The two go hand-in-hand," explained Germain. "When we are not adequately addressing a students personalized learning needs, clearly that has the potential to impact their feeling of safety in our schools, as well as their ability to fit in and be part of the school community."
Germain says his role will be to support the great work already happening in our schools, as well as new efforts that ensure great outcomes for our kids.