La Verne Magazine
"Education in La Verne"
Jaeger Helps Adolescents Through Wonder Years
by Erin Grycel
illustration by Stephanie Lesniak
Vivid surfing posters, a watercolor painting of sailboats and a plant
stand -- with a bright green fern -- adorn one wall in a solitary office
in San Dimas. A photograph of monkeys, handwritten cards that read, "We
Will Miss You" and a large piece of paper, displaying "The Pyramid
of Success," decorate another wall that would otherwise be ordinary.
The filing cabinet is heaped with stuffed animals and a stethoscope.
The only object that identifies the individual's occupation is the label
on the desk. He is not a comedian, nor environmentalist, nor athlete ...
but a school administrator.
George Jaeger, Ed.D., assistant principal at Lone Hill Middle School
and University of La Verne '73 graduate, provides a new perspective to discipline.
"I am not the mean, cruel assistant principal who punishes kids,"
says Jaeger. "I use each disciplinary problem as a teaching moment."
It is 9:15 a.m., and George Jaeger begins his day, dressed in a blue
and gold coaching outfit to represent school spirit day. The first student
conference of the day begins.
Jaeger: "Hi, are you doing better today after your fight that
you had yesterday?"
Student: "Am I going to be suspended?"
Jaeger: "You will have three days of in-school suspension. I
know that yesterday you were trying to defend your macho, but the best thing
is to walk away from it."
Parent: "I assure you this will never happen again."
Jaeger: "OK, let me just tell you what serious things could
have happened yesterday.... You can go start your work, and things are cool
A voice comes over the intercom, and Jaeger immediately has to respond
to the situation.
Since 1973, Jaeger has been a part of the Lone Hill faculty. "I
taught at the school, was a dean for two years, became an assistant principal
at the [San Dimas] high school for one year and then returned [to Lone Hill],"
he says. For the past seven years he has had the responsibility of assistant
"I used to say, if I ever talk about getting into administration,
please shoot me and get me out of my misery," Jaeger replies. Nevertheless,
as time went on, he needed to move over in the pay scale. In 1986, Jaeger
returned to the University of La Verne for his master of education degree.
Ten years later, ULV bestowed upon him a doctorate of education.
Jaeger chuckles, "I chose to focus on administration because I
thought if I went into counseling I would have to listen to problems all
day." He adds, "Now, what do I do -- I listen to problems all
The annual bus evacuation drill. Jaeger has to be present for these
procedures. Outside, children are jumping out of busses. Baggy jeans, spiky
hair, blue eyeshadow and tennis shoes are the general garb of the students.
As the students become rowdy, Jaeger says, "Come on, chill out! This
is a serious matter."
A school security representative alerts Jaeger that a student was
antagonizing a woman at the bus stop. The director of transportation pulls
Jaeger aside to discuss "confidential matters."
Three different situations are handled by Jaeger, amidst the murmur
of chattering adolescents.
He returns to his office to finish paperwork, only to find the place
completely crowded with 13-year-old adolescents.
Discipline is the primary responsibility of an assistant principal.
With more than 1,000 students to deal with on a day-to-day basis, Jaeger
has a challenging job that very few people can master within their lifetime.
He says, "I deal with the children with the highest respect. This is
a crucial time in their lives, both physically and socially."
"If you embarrass a child, it could be so traumatic that they will
remember it for the rest of their lives," he says.
Ruben Avila, school security, says, "He is an awesome guy. He knows
his job, and 90 percent of the students think he's great."
The general consensus around the school is that students are afraid
of Jaeger, but they also love him. "I know that students make mistakes;
my job is to modify their behavior for intelligent reasons."
Three students wait nervously outside of his office.
Student 1: "My clothes are just fine; I don't know what the
Jaeger: "That is marginal; you know not to let your midriff
show. Okay, next dude."
Student 2: "I don't know why I'm here; I didn't do anything."
Jaeger: You don't need to cop an attitude; we will listen to you
... OK, just don't push the girls and be nice."
Student 3: "Girls are calling me names, and I don't know what
Jaeger: "What I need you to do is get specific names, and we
can set up a conflict management session."
Looking up at the clock, Jaeger realizes that it is 15 minutes before
utter chaos breaks loose -- the passing period.
Providing alternatives to out-of-school suspension are some of the many
contributions Jaeger has established at the school. "I wrote my dissertation
on this subject, and I firmly believe that these alternatives benefit the
students," he says.
There is an alternative learning center located next to his office.
Students are provided with their daily work and teacher assistance "during
the duration of their in-school suspension," Jaeger says.
Another alternative is parent sit-ins. "This is the most dramatic
measure of correction because it is embarrassing [to the student] to have
their mom following them around school."
With a clipboard full of students' names, Jaeger displays the community
service plan at the middle school. "Students pick up trash, rake leaves
and sweep floors. This is not just a correctional measure but a beautification
It is time for the passing period. Jaeger observes hundreds of students
in the halls to make sure that their behavior is kept under control.
Student 1: "Hi , Mr. Jaeger."
Student 2: "Mr. Jaeger, you look cool today."
Student 3: "Mr. Jaeger, someone stole my book bag, and I know
they did it on purpose."
Jaeger: "First of all, calm down. Tell me the facts, step by
step, and name the students that you were last with -- before passing period."
The bell rings. Jaeger hurriedly walks to his next destination.
Kay Sedor, secretary to the assistant principal at Lone Hill, says,
"The difference between Jaeger and other APs is the empathy he has
for children." She says, "He gives 100 percent to the students,
helping and caring for them along the way."
In a very modest voice, Jaeger says, "I would like to think that
I have been a very conscientious and fair employee within the Bonita district.
"I work well with the staff; we are like a family. We support each
other when dealing with the students."
Situated across from San Dimas High School, the middle school is occupied
by students who are in the transition period, from childhood to adulthood.
Like his students, Jaeger is also in the process of transition. He recently
moved from an assistant principal of Lone Hill to a principalship in an
Alhambra school. "It is expected [for me] to move up, and it is time
for a change," says Jaeger before the move.
Reflecting on his personal tactics with student discipline, he provides
helpful advice to the incoming assistant principal. "Remember to always
have thorough investigation of facts, write down everything, find out who
else was at the scene, allow the students to communicate thoroughly and
always be consistent."
"Working for the Bonita Unified School District has been great;
they are tuned into instruction of education and achievement," says
Jaeger. Within the actual school, only minor policies need to be altered.
Jaeger says, "My problems are gum chewing and tardiness instead of
gang fights and graffiti." He adds, "That says a lot about the
school; we are able to spend our time focusing on instruction."
Jaeger walks into a special education classroom. Children are talking
and reviewing with the teacher about the Middle East. As he sits in the
back, he observes the teacher. He writes notes, comments on teaching strategies,
and just enjoys sitting inside of a classroom filled with adolescents.
It is only 11:15 a.m., and the day is yet to be half-way complete. Jaeger
still has numerous tasks to finish.
Inside his office, an inspirational quote reads, "The race is not
always to the swift but to those who keep on running." Jaeger will
leave his legacy behind at Lone Hill and begin a new chapter of his life
As he leaves his office for a pep rally, Jaeger says, "Always remember
that you are in this job [for the students]. If you forget that, then it
is time for you to get out of the business."
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