Throughout his 16 years as an educator, new CMHS principal, Dr. James Harden has allowed a single idea to drive his work as an administrator and to unify his school community: “Use the power of education to increase the life opportunities for all students.” As a former high school principal, Dr. Harden’s enthusiasm for his work and love of children made him beloved by both students and parents. His administrative leadership and ability to analyze assessment data, train teachers and re-align the school’s Math and Reading curriculum to Common Core standards proved so successful that within one year the school saw a 2%-5% increase in measured areas of the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT).
When asked how he thinks his former success can be modeled in Crete-Monee School District, Dr. Harden doesn’t take long to respond. “My approach is quite simple,” he says. “Failure is not an option!” He adds that he always seeks to lead by example and empower the learning community to find creative methods to solve daily problems.
Eager to begin this new chapter in his educational career, Dr. Harden says that he looks forward to “jumping in with both feet” – which, he smiles, you may regularly see covered with white sneakers peeking from beneath his business suit. Dr. Harden’s professional colleagues have been known to poke fun at his high energy style leadership but all eventually came to realize that he is leader who is simply passionate and committed to education. He is the author of two books entitled Think Like a Teacher, Act Like a Parent: A guide for increasing your child’s life opportunities and Enrolled, Enlisted or Employed: A few tips your guidance counselor forgot to give you!
Dr. Harden, his wife, LaShonna, and two children have recently become new residents of Monee. His daughter Nina, 5, and son Shaun, 7, will begin school at Monee Elementary this fall.