Julie Jongsma: Keeps LTCS running with a focus on community

Julie portrait La Tierra La Tierra’s Director of Operations, Julie Jongsma, believes so strongly in the LTCS mission that she went from parent to Board member to Operations Officer! 

She is an Arizona native who grew up in Prescott, then earned her Bachelors in Social Work from Northern Arizona University and went on to get her Masters in Business Administration. 

In the summer of 2019, Julie was honored to begin serving the community as the Operations Director. She has a deep commitment to and love of the La Tierra mission and the entire La Tierra community. 

She can usually be found spending time with her 2 beautiful children who have attended La Tierra for 8 years. She enjoys practicing yoga as well as all things related to nature and the amazing outdoor opportunities the Southwest has to offer, especially hiking, biking, backpacking and camping.

La Tierra Julie Jongsma enjoys Sedona with her kids.

Why are you an educator? 

My degrees are in Social Work and Business Administration. I spent 15 years in the field of social work helping individuals and families enhance their social functioning, be more independent and improve their overall well-being. I stopped working when my daughter was born and spent several years focused on my children as a stay at home mom. My time at home interacting with children in a variety of settings and roles helped me realize how much I wanted to work with children when I returned to the workforce. 

I have filled many roles here at La Tierra. I can think of nothing more important than helping children keep their love of learning alive and inspiring them to think outside the box to tackle real world problems both today and in the future. I feel blessed every day to be able to come to work here. 

What 3 words best describe you as a leader? 

Calm, Heart-centered, Global thinker 

How do your values as a leader influence your work at La Tierra Community School? 

I place a high value on relationship building. It is my sincere goal to build solid relationships with students, their families and staff. I think it is so important to know where the child is coming from and what challenges or successes they are having in their home life. I work hard to build relationships that help support and nurture each member of our community whether that is staff, parents or the larger community. 

What are your goals for the 2021-2022 school year ahead? 

We have so many goals for our upcoming school year! As the Operational Director, many of my goals are focused on community and student emotional health. 

We place a high value on community in our school. Several years ago I experienced a personal trauma and the support I received from the La Tierra Community was overwhelming. Everyone stepped up to offer support or even just an encouraging word. Community in our school isn’t just a buzzword, it is a way of life! 

La Tierra Julie Jongsma stands at 4 Corners with her kids.

COVID required us to limit many of the activities that are so important to us as a community. We are hopeful that COVID restrictions will be at a minimum so one of my main personal goals is to reinstitute as many of our community building activities as possible. We feel our school community is one of many ways that our school stands out from the other schools in our area. We typically sponsor at least one community event each month during the school year. These events range from Reading or Math nights to bonfire potlucks to a school wide dance. 

My other primary goal is to help support our students’ mental health while re-acclimating to school life. This year has created so much chaos and uncertainty. We will be implementing multiple strategies to assist our students’ social and emotional well-being as they adjust to a return to school next year. Our use of Conscious Discipline in the classrooms already places a focus on ensuring that all of our students feel safe and supported at school. We will be continuing to utilize Conscious Discipline practices as well as providing additional supports to

help our students feel safe while navigating this new world. We are also so excited to be able to have an amazing counselor on campus 2 days per week for the upcoming school year. 

How do you maintain your always-learning EL-inspired approach in your own life? 

I learn something new every day. I think it is important for personal growth to acknowledge my successes and challenges in all areas. I am a strong believer in the idea that the word FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning. I am constantly pushing myself to try new things and fill as much of my time as possible adventuring in nature.