When students return on August 10, 2015, they’ll no longer be attending On-Track Academy; instead, they’ll be students at The Jones-Gordon School! Why the name change?
We accepted our first On-Track Academy students in 2010. The academy was named for, and created as an extension of, Dana Herzberg’s successful one-on-one tutoring service, On-Track Tutoring. The name was a natural choice at the time: the school was spearheaded by the same dedicated leadership team that ran On-Track Tutoring; the majority of the school’s first teachers (still with us today!) had already proven their talent and skill as On-Track Tutors; and Dana’s undeniable passion, expertise, and spirit are what drive the success of both On-Track Tutoring & On-Track Academy.
It was a synergistic partnership that remains today.
As the school has grown, however, the need for a name more reflective of our student body and our mission has become more apparent. Therefore, we are extremely proud and excited to introduce…
But why Jones-Gordon? In the words of founder and Head of School, Dana Herzberg:
“I believe the kids at our school are heroic; I wanted to recognize MY heroes by renaming the school in their honor.
Dr. Clare B. Jones was the woman who gave me the confidence to be who I am today. Clare, my advisor and friend, was one of the very best educational psychologists. She evaluated hundreds of students and traveled the world speaking about children who learn differently. She was a brilliant speaker and author, a devoted educator, and amazing mentor. To tell you that I learned from the best is a gross understatement. She was THE best.
Before she passed away in 2006, Clare shared with me this story. She once evaluated a teenager who really struggled in school. As she evaluated him, she searched for his strength (as she always did) but his scores were all pretty commensurate and nothing really stood out from the rest. In reviewing the results with the young man, she told him about his strength in math. It wasn’t a true strength on paper, but it was enough that she got his attention. Years later, when he heard that she was sick, he sent her an email. He graduated from high school, obtained a degree in math and was teaching math in South Korea—all due to the day she told him about his strength. She used this story to illustrate the path she wanted me to remember: “Always find their strengths, Dana, no matter how small.”
After her passing, I stood at her house with boxes of material she left for me. Her colleagues referred to me as, “Clare’s Dana” which brought me to tears but filled my heart with warmth. My mentor believed in me and I worshipped her.
Clare’s Dana. Those words resonate with me as I aspire to be the educator and person that would make Clare proud. I live my life by her most important principle: make sure that children know themselves for their strengths and not for their challenges. The Jones-Gordon School reflects that most important aspect of what I believe—cultivating strengths! I think it goes without saying that the school should be named for my hero, Clare, as I wouldn’t be “Clare’s Dana” without her. I have always hoped to keep her memory alive, and know that she lives on in the hearts of the people who had the privilege of knowing her.
Len believed in my school, in my vision, and before his passing, he was beginning to bring the school to the attention of the “powers that be” at ASU in hopes of helping to support my dream. Beyond his extensive accolades as a professor, Dean and member of the ASU Senate, Len was a phenomenal person. Everyone loved Len. He was described by everyone who knew him as a “beacon of light,” “a gentle soul,” “Mr. Optimism,” and “someone to count on.”
Honoring Len was an easy choice because I believe we can all live our lives more like Len Gordon—always seeing the positive and taking every challenge in stride. Len inspires me to be a better person each and every day.
My school family means the absolute world to me; there is nowhere that I would rather be, or any other “job” that I would rather have. My students, my staff, my teachers, my 4-legged & slithering friends… it’s my second family. Building this school has not only fulfilled my dreams but has also nurtured my soul. Not very many people love what they do as much I do; that I am certain of!
It is my pleasure to share in the creation of more “heroes” via the heroes that inspired me.
Dana Herzberg, M.Ed.
Founder, Head of School