The newly named principal of Frey Elementary School already has plans for the first day on Aug. 4.
Because of his passion for music, he plans on welcoming students back by broadcasting music through the school speakers, giving him a chance to show his creative side.
On Wednesday, he was named the new principal of Frey Elementary in Acworth. He replaced Joyce Piket, who retired. Cathey previously worked at Vaughan Elementary School, where he was assistant principal.
A Powder Springs native and member of the McEachern High School Class of 1995, Cathey, 37, said he always wanted to teach music.
When he began teaching 15 years ago, he was a music and chorus teacher at Tapp Middle School and Baker Elementary School.
“There’s going to be a lot of music at Frey Elementary,” Cathey said.
Playing music with children, he said, lets the students see a non-serious side of him.
“I think that we, as adults, when we show kids that we’re able to have fun with them, then when we’re serious, those lessons mean a lot more to them,” Cathey said.
Cathey plans to play music as the students walk into school in the morning each day, but the music won’t stop after that. Cathey said he has a habit of having spontaneous dance parties with his team when there’s something to celebrate.
This is the way Cathey plans to lead Frey Elementary, by enjoying every minute of it.
“We’re going to meet standards, and we’re going to have a little fun along the way,” he said.
Tracie Doe, an area assistant superintendent for the Cobb County School District who has worked closely with Cathey for the past year, said she sees what makes him influential to the children.
“He has a positive personality. He’s upbeat,” Doe said. “He makes learning fun for kids.”
Cathey has been an administrator at Kennesaw Elementary School and an assistant principal at Brumby Elementary School. Cathey said he has learned the most important part of being a leader is having a vision and plan for the school while also focusing on the individual.
Specializing in leadership and challenging students is a good fit for Frey Elementary, Doe said, because the school is known as “a high achieving school.”
The school has a balanced demographic, “a great cross-section of America,” said Cobb School Board Vice Chairman Randy Scamihorn.
Doe said it is sometimes hard to show improvement in a school with high achievements, such as Frey Elementary.
“I think any time there’s change there will be some obstacles,” Doe said.
Scamihorn, who represents the school, said he has a good first impression of Cathey from what parents say.
“In west Cobb, we have high expectations, and I’m sure he’s capable of exceeding those standards or he wouldn’t have been chosen,” Scamihorn said.
Cathey said he knows he will face obstacles coming into a new environment, but he doesn’t want to get bogged down in them.
“It’s my job to remind people why we’re there,” he said.
Cathey said he wants to be a cheerleader for everyone at Frey Elementary.
Leadership is what Cathey’s teaching revolves around now, which is underscored by the acronym he created for the school’s mascot: Fostering Leadership Among Motivated, Engaged Students, or FLAMES.
“It’s under the belief that all students have leadership qualities, and so how do we promote that and get that going?” he said.
He is prepared to foster any type of leadership in students.
“Most people think a leader has to be that person standing up, but I want the kids to understand that you can lead by being an idea person,” Cathey said. “You can lead through service.”
After seeing Cathey work, Doe said he is good at reaching out to people personally.
“He has great people skills, and one of his strengths is he makes every one of them feel they’re the most special,” Doe said.
Most of all, Cathey said he enjoys watching students grow.
“I have a belief in the best of people, and school is such an amazing place to watch that happen,” Cathey said.
The Jason John Cathey file
• Family:Wife, Robyn, a coach, choreographer and media coordinator for The Stingray Cheer Company in Marietta; daughter, Aidan, 11, entering sixth grade at Durham Middle School; daughter, Piper, 5, entering kindergarten at Pickett’s Mill Elementary; son, Nolan, 3.
• Born in: Greensboro, N.C.
• Residence: Dallas
• Education: Bachelor’s in music education from Georgia Southern University; Master’s in educational leadership with a technology endorsement from Kennesaw State University.
• Church: West Ridge Church in Dallas