Jay Jaski Appreciates Position of Theater Teacher

By: Katie Keyser
Staff Writer

After Harry Holcombe retired last school year, Jay Jaski took Holcombe’s place as the new theater teacher for the 2013-14 school year.

Jaski is teaching advanced scene study, theater foundations and speech and debate. He is also serving as the academic advisor of the speech and debate club and directing the freshmen musical.

Jaski was born in Miami, Fla., but raised in Tallahassee, Fla. He has been interested in theater his entire life.

“I did my first play when I was four,” Jaski said. “I played Dopey in Snow White. I can still remember being on the stage and really enjoying it. I enjoyed being a jokester and imitating people. I was also really into music.”

Jaski participated in his school’s choir and joined an after school children’s theater group in seventh grade. By high school, he knew he wanted to work in theater.

“I realized that music and theater were just so important in the world and that I wanted to pursue them in college,” Jaski said. “They interested me like nothing else.”

Jaski attended Florida State University and earned a performance degree in musical theater.  In 1997, he moved to New York and lived there for 15 years pursuing a career as an actor and director. Jaski later decided to go to graduate school at Columbia University to study dramaturgy and become a teacher.

“My parents were teachers and I grew up in a college town,” Jaski said. “Originally, I wanted to teach at a university, but as I got older I decided to teach high school. I feel that high school is the most important for kids and is the bridge to their future. It is where their lives are launched. As a teacher, it brings out the best in me.”

After earning his degree, Jaski moved to Princeton with his wife and family. He heard about Peddie from his mother-in-law who has lived in the area for a long time.

“I sent my information in to Peddie right away,” Jaski said.

At first there was not a job opening. However, once Holcombe decided to retire Jaski was contacted.

“During my first visit I knew I was really hoping to get the job,” Jaski said. “I wanted to work at a school where the arts were considered important and really valued. I realized quickly from my meetings with the arts department how wonderful everyone is and how lucky I would be to work with both them and the students. It was all something I just had to be a part of.”

After Jaski was hired in March, he visited Peddie numerous times to see contests, plays and various other activities.

“I was excited for it all to start,” Jaski said. “The more I kept coming to Peddie functions, the more I wanted to start teaching. I was anxious to get going and dive in.”