MARICOPA — Maricopa Unified School District board member Jim Jordan is prepping for his first general election to the board after being appointed to his position in May.
Though Jordan had run for State Representative in Kansas a couple times, this will be his first for the school board. He moved to Maricopa about a decade ago with his wife Saunny and their son who has disabilities.
Jordan got his first taste of what MUSD had to offer when he tagged along with his brother-in-law to view the Junior ROTC program at Maricopa High School. Jordan’s brother-in-law is a veteran and was a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War.
“I was very impressed with what they’re doing there,” Jordan said of MHS. “The response that the students gave to him when he came in the room, the respect, the honor that they gave him (was amazing).”
Jordan is a retired pastor, having followed in his father’s footsteps. He is the proud father of three and grandfather of two, and his mother, sister and daughters are all former or current teachers. In his free time, Jordan drove school buses and involved himself in young children’s education where he could.
For his hopeful upcoming term, Jordan would like to see MUSD rise to the top of state districts for their excellence in education.
“I want to make Maricopa schools number one in the state in every aspect,” he said.
One of the ways he would like to see that happen is through the implementation of new programs for students like financial literacy. He pointed to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, which helps individuals find better ways of managing their money.
“I’m very interested in seeing that put in place,” Jordan said. “In other words, I want to be able to (have) at least the seniors take a class in financial literacy that will really do them some good and help them stay away from high student loans and getting trapped in credit.”
Jordan says he also supports raises for teachers, so the district can continue to be a competitive work environment.
“I do support raising the teacher salaries so that we can continue to hire excellent teachers. Seems like there’s always a few that leave every year, so we have some turnover,” Jordan said. “Everybody wants education excellence, but if we want to get better, we have to think better and think about doing that and raising those levels and carefully watching the metrics that go along with it.”
He would also like to improve parental communication across the board, but especially in the age of COVID.
“Parental involvement is one of the things that we are thinking about. I know there’s things in place to try to make that better, but that’s got to be one of the big issues to conquer,” Jordan said. “I was thinking maybe this virus pandemic and having to work online and having parents observing and helping, maybe that will help with the parental involvement issue. … Then there are some people who just don’t give it another thought to what their kids are doing in school and don’t really give a thought to how they’re doing — don’t show interest.”
In his last four months on the board, Jordan says he has also attempted to help bridge the gap between board members and create a more unified front.
“(I’m) really connecting with the other board members — I’m still in the process of that to really establish personal relationships with them, and letting them know my goals and finding that their goals are quite similar. My biggest thing is creating unity, not just in thought but in the actions of the school board.”
That unity is what he hopes will drive the district to even greater heights. He also says that, as a board member, he believes the district’s purpose is to serve the students.
“Schools are not made for the administration,” Jordan said. “The purpose of it is not for teachers. The purpose of it is for students. We try to make the best decisions we can for students. There’s always other people, teachers and other administration staff, that have to be considered, but the purpose is kids. We all need to keep that in mind, and sometimes we forget. Sometimes we go ‘me-me-me.’”
Jordan was one of three board members to vote for the schools to reopen earlier than originally scheduled at a Sept. 3 special meeting due to falling numbers in COVID cases.
He credits his wife Saunny with a great deal of his successes, praising her for her care of their son who has disabilities and for his own schoolboy grades.
“She’s the one that’s mostly responsible for me raising my grades and becoming a better student,” Jordan said. “When I started going to college I realized I needed something. I found this girl who got her self esteem from getting good grades and she started taking an interest in helping me, so I married her.”
He added that she has been a big help to him in his campaign and “she is supportive and I’m very thankful for that.”