In our recurring Spotlight blog feature, we chat with CASE members from around the globe their advancement careers.
Member: Jason Lopez
Position: Head of school at The Pegasus School
Background: After studying economics and sociology, Lopez went on to be a teacher, principal and eventually an assistant superintendent. Four years ago, he took the helm at The Pegasus School, a pre-K-8 school of 565 students in Huntington Beach, California.
Lopez served on the planning committee for the 2018 CASE-NAIS Independent Schools Conference and is a member of the California Association for Independent Schools board.
What are some of the big challenges you’ve faced and milestones you’ve achieved in your work?
Our school, which has a remarkable founding history, is navigating the challenges of “middle age.” Originally founded as a school for gifted students in 1984, we have broadened our reach. We now serve a community of bright and motivated students, helping them develop their unique gifts. We have continued to navigate the transition from many founding administrators and faculty, while maintaining a very high standard for all of our employees—faculty, in particular.
Just in the past four years, we have successfully earned full reaccreditation from the California Association of Independent Schools, rewritten our mission statement, written our strategic plan (called Roots to Grow; Wings to Soar), refreshed our campus master plan and have begun to put structures in place for a capital campaign.
We’re working towards an upgrade of some facilities, continuing to provide access to deserving students and families though financial aid and building our endowment with the goal of long-term sustainability for our school.
What’s the best part of your job?
When I first became a teacher 29 years ago, I did so to positively impact childrens’ lives. Now, with 565 students, 370 families and 115 faculty and staff members depending on me daily for leadership, support, guidance and care, I believe I am doing the things all teachers do. I am honored to have returned to this high calling.
Our revised mission statement contains the words curiosity, compassion, and community. Those three concepts capture what I like best about my work.
How has CASE membership influenced your career?
During the past year, our school was investigating the possibility of our first campaign in more than a dozen years and entering the search process for a new advancement director. So, I dove deeply into the CASE resources to help. Since I come from the public school arena, I’ve found CASE’s guidance, connections and professional development to be key to my growth in the advancement space.
CASE’s support and guidance during the last year and this has proven to be instrumental. The contacts we’ve made for both the search and the campaign investigation have allowed us to successfully advance the school on both fronts. Our advancement office is ahead of its goal on indicators like our annual fund, as well as major events planning and underwriting. It seems that more I am able to give to CASE, much more is returned—exponentially.