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Tews connects with Nebraska roots at GIPS

Jim Tews is the new principal at Wasmer Elementary, and though he lived in Florida since he was 18, Nebraska is home.

Tews, a Lincoln native and Lincoln East High School graduate, attended the University of Florida on an ROTC scholarship. He then served in the Air Force and was an officer for seven years. After the Air Force, Tews was an airport manager for Delta Airlines. After 11 years at Delta, he was finally able to pursue a longtime dream: educating others.

“Always during that time, my plan was to go into education,” Tews said.

The timing of the ROTC during Tews’ college career didn’t allow room for student teaching. However, Tews never gave up on education.

James Tews and Dr. Grover

He was a teacher for a few years before going into administration in the Broward County School District in Florida. Tews said his time in the Air Force and in management at Delta helped shape his leadership and communication skills that are essential to being a principal.

Education runs in Tews’ family. His mom was an English teacher in Lincoln, his sister is a fourth grade teacher in Cincinnati and his father was an adjunct law professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His nephew also studies elementary education at UNL.

“We’ve all been heavily involved in education,” Tews said.

Tews said he’d always thought of moving back to Nebraska.

“I felt I was losing my connection to the state,” he said, because he lived in Florida.

Tews then attended UNL for his doctorate degree, which is when he heard about the progressive and empowering mission of Grand Island Public Schools.

He said his mantra in leadership is to take care of one another, whether that be teachers, students or parents. Tews said the support trickles down: if a principal isn’t supportive of the teachers, that affects the whole school.

“The teachers are on the front lines.They see the students everyday,” Tews said. “If we don’t have them at the top of their game, then our whole entire mission is ineffective.”

Tews said as Wasmer principal, he plans to continue the support and positive relationships with students, teachers and parents.

“The one-on-one doesn’t need to end with the teacher,” Tews said.

He said his goal is to build individual relationships, especially with students and staff, so they know they’re supported. Tews said it’s important that students know that not only do their teachers support them, but that other staff and the principal support them, too.

“That’s what really creates an environment in which students thrive,” Tews said.

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