John Jorden

John E. Jorden

Ritchie Elementary School
Ohio County School District
Wheeling, West Virginia

John Jorden believes that “leadership is about change” and that change is never an individual endeavor. As leader of Ritchie Elementary School (RES) for the past 12 years, Jorden sees himself as “head coach” of his team, empowering teachers to see themselves as agents of change. Jorden credits his success at RES to his ability to build a strong and effective team, first by investing in rigorous hiring processes, and second by retaining teachers through professional development that inspires ongoing growth. Each spring, for example, he facilitates a graduate-level book study class, while supporting teachers to put their learning into practice in the classroom through close supervision of analysis- and action-oriented PLCs. As a result, NICHE ranks RES fifth for elementary schools in the state, while the teaching staff ranks first. In 2018, RES students met the annual target in ELA and achieved the highest elementary mathematics scores in the region. These achievements are particularly impressive given the socioeconomic challenges faced by RES’s 300 Pre-K-5 students, all of whom receive free and reduced-price meals. Jorden works with community partners to ensure all students have the foundation for success, including through a PTO-organized Block Party featuring free backpacks and school supplies for all students. He holds an M.A. in Ed. Administration from West Virginia University and a B.A. in Elementary Education with a Math Specialization 4-8 from West Liberty State College.