10 to Watch in 2022: Jordi Roman

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 2, 2022

Jordi Roman took an unusual path to Rowan-Salisbury Schools that spanned continents.

One of the Post’s 10 to Watch in 2022, Roman started leading the district’s lab school out of Koontz Elementary, a grant-funded program that trains college students through a year-long co teaching experience, and he was not here long before he was promoted within the district.

In November, the RSS Board of Education promoted him to executive director of Parent Engagement and Partnerships. Roman is still at the lab school while the district looks to hire his replacement in that role.

In his new role, he plans to develop a framework to engage the district’s parents. He wants to start by looking at what the district is already doing well and put those things in the center.

He also wants to develop a calendar of events and activities as a tangible way to get families involved in the schools as well as create a parent academy that would provide services in English and Spanish.

Roman, 50, was born in Venezuela, where his family emigrated from Italy and Spain. Growing up, he traveled a lot. He spent a couple years living in Spain and eventually moved to Florida to live with his grandparents.

“Like any kid born outside of the U.S. I was dreaming of going to Disney World,” Roman said.

He did not speak English, and he was placed in an English as a second language class with kids from backgrounds such as French-Canadian. There were more adjustments than the language. He had to get used to things like bell scheduling because in Venezuela he had one teacher the entire day.

He always wanted to be an educator. He went to school to become a teacher and a minister. He studied at a community college in Pittsburgh, where he stayed with a Mennonite family. He later attended Southeastern College in Florida and would eventually earn master’s degrees from The College of New Jersey and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

After his undergraduate studies he moved back to Venezuela to be a minister and landed a job teaching at an international school in Caracas. After Hugo Chavez rose to power, Roman and his family moved back to the U.S., where he started working for Montgomery County Schools as an ESL teacher at Troy Elementary School.

He was dual-certified in English and ESL. He taught kids who were at risk, many of whom were recent immigrants from Mexico and Central American countries. He was invited to join an organization called N.C. Teacher Academy and helped create a manual for training teachers.

He was later hired as a teacher in Asheboro, where he later became an ESL coordinator for the local school district. He was part of Heritage Language Academy, a partnership program with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Eventually he became an assistant principal at North Asheboro Middle School. He then moved on to Randolph County as an assistant principal and elementary principal before returning to Asheboro as an elementary principal. He would later be promoted to the district’s director of curriculum and ESL and then director of support services.

Amy Holcombe, a High Point University and Roman’s friend, pointed him toward what was happening in RSS. The district’s renewal and lab school in Koontz Elementary intrigued him, so he applied.

Who would play you in a movie?

Robert Downey Jr.

What would you want for your last meal? 

Linguini a la pescatore

Biggest personal challenge in 2022 and Biggest personal hope for 2022? 

That we build strong relationships between the schools, families, community agencies, and partners for the success of all students and to continue to be a life-long learner.

Who will you be watching in 2022?  

Parent engagement and partnership programs in districts across North Carolina to learn and collaborate on how we support and engage families and communities in Rowan Salisbury Schools.

What would you do if you won $10 million?

Give to a variety of ministries and nonprofits, in the U.S. and overseas, particularly those that work with children/parent partnerships and pay for my children’s college, and buy a new home for my wife and I.

What’s your reaction to being named as one of the “10 to Watch?”

Honored and grateful.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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