A native of San Antonio, Texas, Mr. James Strait was privileged to pursue one of his dreams when he attended Bethel University in Minnesota on a track and field scholarship. While attending Bethel University, he joined the Army Reserves and became an active duty soldier after his college graduation in 1994. Mr. Strait served 3 years at Fort Drum, NY with the 10th Mountain Division. In his 22 years of military service, he deployed to Oman, Panama, Haiti, Iraq and Kuwait. Mr. Strait retired as a Chief Warrant Officer from the United States Military in 2013. He earned many acclimates from the United States Army to include the Army Commendation Award, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, and the Humanitarian Award. He was also selected to try out for the All-Army Track and Field Team at Fort Huachuca. As he worked and served in the Army Reserves, Mr. Strait completed his Master's Degree in Education Administration in 2005 from Capella University and is currently in the dissertation phase of his Doctorate Degree. He recently completed his superintendent licensure from Saint Mary's University.
Ever since he began his career in education in the year 2000, Mr. Strait has firmly believed that his students are his school's first priority. He works vigorously to create a school climate of caring. Just as highly effective teachers foster a climate of caring in the classroom, Mr. Strait strives to create a family atmosphere throughout the school. An atmosphere that lets students know that the adults in their school family care and will be available for their needs. He knows his student's names, their stories, their strengths, and their struggles.
A quote from Nelson Mandela guides his relationships with students...
"It is the difference we have made in the lives of others that determines the significance of the life we lead."
Mr. Strait strives daily to make a real difference in the lives of all he meets...students, parents, teachers, school support staff, district-level school staff, and installation representatives. Throughout Mr. Strait's 16 years in school administration, he has developed a proven record for the marked improvement of student achievement that crosses all cultural, social, and economic barriers.
To historically note Mr. Strait's prestigious accomplishments, he began his career as a physical education and health teacher at a high school in Minnesota, and was promoted to Assistant Principal in 2003. In 2004, Mr. Strait welcomed the opportunity to start and become the Principal of the only school in Minneapolis with a JROTC program. For eight years, Mr. Strait was the Principal for General Collin Powell JROTC High School and Banaadir Academy Elementary/Middle School. Each school met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind Act, which is a strong accomplishment in many inner-city schools. As Banaadir Academy was a start-up school within his district, the Board of Directors appointed Mr. Strait as Principal of both schools due to his exceptional leadership skills.
After 12 successful years in the Minnesota schools, Mr. Strait chose to follow his dream of working with military connected children and joined the distinguished DoDEA organization as the Assistant Principal of Fort Campbell High School in 2012. During his tenure at FCHS, he worked diligently to improve student academic achievement, student attendance, and decrease student disciplinary referrals. He also led numerous professional development sessions and worked passionately with both athletic and academic programs.
Mr. Strait's DoDEA career led him to Antilles Middle School in Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico during the summer of 2015. He served as the Assistant Principal, and utilized his leadership strengths to analyze data trends to determine areas of needed organizational improvement. As the father of three amazing young men, Mr. Strait understands the importance of school safety from a parental perspective. At AMS, he created crisis plan protocols for all safety procedures, developed a school safety manual for all staff to increase continuity of procedures throughout the campus, and led the practice of all drills until 100% accountability was achieved, school-wide.
In 2016 Mr. Strait was honored to accept the position of Principal at Ramey Unit School. As the Principal of a Unit School he was always on the go. While at RUS, Mr. Strait believes working in a transparent, authentic setting that is in the student’s best interest as well as their improvement. During his time at Ramey Unit School, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017, it left the island in chaos making how his team educated students for the rest of the year, a bit challenging. With limited power and internet Mr. Strait, his staff and students persevered. In addition, the enrollment has increased from 375 to 416 students with 100% graduation rate. He encouraged new ideas to promote student learning and implemented them with data driven initiatives. Mr. Strait has been immensely proud of his staff and students at RUS. Ramey's current data shows that 64% of students scored 3 or higher on the AP exams. And for SY 18-SY19 Ramey had a 3.1% increase in ELA on the CCRS summative assessment, while also seeing a 6.6% increase in Math.
Mr. Strait and his wife of 28 years, Michelle are proud parents to three adult sons: Jordan, Javen and Josiah. Mr. and Mrs. Strait are excited for the new adventure that moving to Okinawa will bring them. Their love for travel and experiencing all life has to offer them makes this an awesome next step in their lives.
Mr. Strait is a long time student of competitive running. He leads his schools in the same fashion that he runs a race. He gives 110% all day, every day. When he hits the finish line, he looks back at his race results, reflects, and sets new goals for the next day. Mr. Strait offers his whole heart and soul to the schools he leads. He is honored to use his skills to expand the solid foundation that exists at one of the finest DoDEA schools, Kubasaki High School!
A native of Midland, Michigan, Ms. Dawn M. Pilon has taken a unique professional and personal journey to arrive at her current position of Assistant Principal at Kubasaki High School.
After graduating from Midland High School in Midland, Michigan, she stayed close to home attending Central Michigan University and on a whim enrolled in an introductory ROTC class. This was the beginning of her military career as she was awarded a 3 and a half year ROTC scholarship. She spent those four years learning as much as she could about how to be an effective soldier and leader. The same day she was commissioned in May of 1988, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree; majoring in Psychology, with minors in Military Science and Interpersonal and Public Communications. A short six weeks later she was on active duty, serving at Ft. Knox for Basic Camp cadets.
She then traveled to Arizona where she attended the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course. After training, making a quick stop at Ft. Benning for Airborne School, she traveled across the world to Yongsan, Korea working in the 1st Signal Brigade S2 Office for one year. 2LT Pilon was then assigned to the 9th Blackhawk Battalion, 101st Airborne Division as the S2 and was promoted to 1LT. Soon after arriving at Fort Campbell, the 101st was deployed to Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia. After returning, she was assigned to the G2 office until being honorably discharged in February of 1992. During the almost four years of service she was awarded the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal. During the four years in the military she grew not only in her profession but personally but getting involved in the theater, and competing in long distance races.
The end of her military career was the beginning of a long and fulfilling career in education. She moved to Louisville, Kentucky, attending the University of Louisville and earned her Masters of Arts in Teaching with a major in Spanish. At that time she moved to Perry, a small town in Iowa, spending four years teaching middle and high school Spanish. During those four years, Ms. Pilon completed her Specialist in Educational Leadership Degree at Drake University. She then moved to Des Moines, where she taught high school Spanish for two more years. Moving into the administrative position of School Improvement Consultant serving schools in Des Moines Public Schools, mentoring elementary to high school teachers and administrators with a variety of improvement efforts, was a first step in using the leadership training she began several years before.