Suffolk native new Longwood dean

Published 10:28 pm Monday, February 20, 2017

A Suffolk native and Lakeland High School graduate has been named the dean of admissions at Longwood University.

Jason Faulk, who graduated from Lakeland in 2000, said he knew as soon as he stepped on the campus of the Farmville school that it was where he wanted to be.

“Everyone was just so welcoming,” he said.

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It didn’t hurt that the job brings him much closer to his parents, who still live in Suffolk. For the last five years, he has been director of admissions at University of North Texas-Dallas and has mostly been away from home since he graduated from high school.

“I felt like I had missed so much of my parents’ lives, because I had left home in 2000 and had never lived in Virginia again,” he said. “I really wanted an opportunity to get closer to home.”

Faulk was so excited about the opportunity, in fact, that he drove from Texas to Suffolk to surprise his parents for Christmas — not only with his visit but also with the news that he was moving a short couple of hours up the road. He started his new job on Jan. 25.

“They were super excited,” he said. “For a while, I don’t think they believed me.”

Faulk grew up attending Suffolk Public Schools and earned a full track scholarship to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga.

“Growing up in Suffolk and going to Atlanta was like night and day,” Faulk said. “What I enjoyed about Morehouse was that it was so different from what I was used to. It was probably one of the best decisions I had ever made to that date, was to step out of my comfort zone.”

Faulk was an education major and initially thought he would put in 30 or 35 years as a teacher and then retire. He did his student teaching at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “I really wanted to build relationships with the students. You have to build relationships with people if you want them to understand and get what you’re trying to say. It takes more to be a teacher than to sit someone down and teach them.”

While teaching in Fulton County, Ga., he obtained his graduate degree in instructional technology from Troy University. He enjoyed being able to see real-world, real-time applications of the concepts he was studying.

“I was able to take what I was doing in class and go the next day and do it in my class,” he said.

He later moved to Dallas, Texas, and was working as a teacher when he was offered the opportunity to work with a nonprofit charter school system called Uplift Education.

Within four years, the system boasted a 100-percent graduation rate, and 100 percent of seniors were accepted into two- or four-year colleges or universities.

“My greatest opportunity at Uplift was a $189,000 grant to plan college field experiences,” he said. “I was putting students on buses, trains and planes and taking them to all these universities throughout the United States. It taught the students, ‘I can go somewhere outside of my comfort zone.’”

He made the move to University of North Texas in 2012.

Faulk said his philosophy at Longwood is not only to find students who will be a good fit for Longwood but also to find students for whom Longwood is a good fit.

“I set the policies and procedures we use to determine who’s a great fit for Longwood and who would Longwood be a great fit for,” he said. “I make sure as I talk with students, I ask them, ‘Where do you see yourself in five years, and how can Longwood help you achieve that goal?’”

Having worked with students from low socioeconomic backgrounds throughout much of his career, a big misconception about college that Faulk wants to dispel is that it’s an unattainable goal or that a particular student won’t like college, he said.

“You can’t dislike something until you try it,” he said.

Overall, Faulk is eager for the future at Longwood and is grateful for the start he got here in Suffolk.

“I owe a lot to the teachers, administrators, faculty and staff members that started me on this journey when I was in the public schools there,” he said.