If USF alumnus Jacob “Jay” Darley told his teenage self he would be teacher, and eventually the principal of the elementary school he attended as a child, he wouldn’t have believed it. Darley, of Joliet, had aspirations of being a rock musician. Although he is not the lead guitar in a band, he is the leading man as principal at Forest Park Individual Education School in Joliet Public School District 86.
“I have the greatest job in the world,” said Darley. “I’m able to use my love for music with my love for education and have an impact in the community—the community I grew up in.”
It’s not uncommon to find Darley in the classroom showing students how to make guitars out of rubber bands and tissue boxes or playing the guitar for students during standardize testing week.
“Forest Park is Joliet’s only elementary school offering a program based on the individual education philosophy,” said Darley. “The overall atmosphere is democratic in nature and provides students with a unique educational choice.”
Darley said he is able to fulfill the mission of his school in part due to the teaching philosophies he learned while obtaining his master’s degree in education from USF in 2002.
“I received lots of individual attention and got a well-rounded foundation to education at USF,” said Darley. “USF included past practices and future, forward-thinking in multiculturalism in their programs.”
He didn’t expect anything less from USF. After all, the university came highly recommended to Darley—by his mother, an educator and USF alumna.
“My mom had a great experience at USF, and mine was the same,” said Darley. “With accessible education options combined with challenging work, USF did well by me.”