written by: Zanne Lamb-Hunt
Good luck trying to find a rack that can hold all of the hats worn by local entrepreneur and community liaison Jay Mason. As well as being a licensed Realtor with Charis Realty, he holds an M.A. in teaching. He’s the President of EAG, is on Jan Gardner’s Education Leadership Team.
Make room for more hats! Jay has contributed his time and talents to the FCPS Superintendent’s Advisory Council and had a hand in the FCPS Strategic Plan. He’s on the Affordable Housing Council of Frederick County(AHC), serves on the board of SHIP and Frederick County’s United Way.
Ready for more hats? He volunteers for YPN, belongs to FCAR and MAR. There’s plenty more but you get the idea. Oh, and lets add a football helmet to the mix!
Where It All Began
Jay grew up in Lewistown, Maryland. His parents still reside there. He describes it as “a great place to grow up. It kept me out of trouble.”
He’s a 1991 graduate from TJ High School, where he started his football career. He wasn’t going to play but responded to the encouragement of some of his classmates at orientation. It only took throwing one pass in his Freshman year for the coach to say, “Okay, you’re my Quarterback!”
Jay is happily married with three kids. ages 12, 4 and 3. His 12-yr-old daughter plays the violin. “It’s almost a struggle for me because I’m a sports guy — I wanted her to play sports! She’s a fantastic violin player.” Maybe the athlete is waiting in one of the younger kids.
Jay Describes The Role And Importance Of A Community Liaison
“I kind of learned from my former TJ Football Coach, Ben Wright. When he passed away last year, we had a lot of reminiscing, me and my former teammates. I learned about how to give back and be a leader. Coach was definitely that. He helped several students — with money..with housing..with food.”
“You have to take your opportunity when it’s given to you to give back. And, be a leader. Now, it’s my turn and I’m really committed to my organization, EAG. Along the way, I’ve joined a few Frederick’s County organizations.”
“It’s about getting to know different types of people and what our community actually needs to grow stronger. Frederick is a great community. It’s definitely grown a lot over the last 10-15 years and it’s going to continue to grow. We just have to pull together. It’s my opportunity to help the next wave of students to learn what it takes to help a community grow and to become stronger.”
“You can’t do it by yourself. You have to learn from others. You have to be a student and then, when you feel like it’s your moment, that’s when you’ve just got to take the reins and take that leadership role. Do whatever you can. In my case, I like to make our schools stronger.”
“They’re already strong but we can make them better. Help out our teachers with their workload and their classroom management by embracing some great students and great children and make them powerful citizens in our community. A lot of where I come from has to do with Coach Wright and being involved in his life for several years.”
“He was a great role model for our community. If I can be half of what he was, I’ll definitely be proud to think I’ve helped to carry on his legacy.”
It’s Been A Long Journey
Attended Shepherd but didn’t graduate on time. “I came back to Frederick…came back home.” After spending 12 years as a bartender, he went back to school in 2008. Meanwhile, Jay had gotten to know the Frederick community pretty well. “I got to know a lot of its leaders.”
He wasn’t sure of what he wanted to do. His brother suggested he pursue a career in education. “I went back in 2011 and got a Master’s degree in Elementary Ed. I’m also certified to teach middle school math.”
Jay’s Biggest Challenge Of Being An Entrepreneur
“Definitely, getting started. Trying to find my niche — what I wanted to do and how I wanted to give back to my community. There are obstacles that you have to overcome and trying to figure out how to get through those obstacles. Trying to figure out who I am and where I’m going.”
He admits, “It took me a while to actually set a plan of what I wanted to do with my life. My biggest challenge, I guess, was probably myself.”
When asked what advice he would give himself if he could go back in time, his reply comes quickly. “Be a better student. Be more of a learner. Be engaged in how you actually get ahead.” He continued, “Don’t think things are going to fall in your lap. You have to actually go get it. Entrench yourself in learning and being engaged.”
Jay Knows He’s Making A Difference
“Recently, I helped the TJ Robotics Team with a few robotics kits. There was a presentation during one of our EAG meetings last year. We had a STEM presentation. TJ students showed off their robot and they were shooting off some rockets. After the presentation, the teacher said she wanted to expand her Robotics Team.”
“She was looking for a few more kids. As an organization, the EAG gave her a kit. Personally, I gave her a kit. She was able to expand her Robotics Team to 37 students. At the start of this year, they were working with their robotics kits and had some community organizations and businesses help with donations.”
“Some former TJ students — engineers in the community — actually helped the Robotics Team. Just over the last two weekends, the Robotics Team competed in two events. Two weeks ago, in the first event, they won a Rookie Award. The team as a whole didn’t fare very well. They were 39th out of 52 teams.”
“This past weekend, they finished 4th and won two more Rookie Awards. They’re really excited about that. It’s really awesome to see them progress from the little robot they had last year to competing in two events and being awarded as an up-and-coming Robotics Team. And,” Jay adds, “potentially winning a spot in the D.C. Regionals coming up!”
Jay Recommends A Book That Was A Game Changer For Him
In The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, “He talked about how organizations were having to re-frame themselves and put in 10,000 hours to build a stronger organization. I think that book was a defining moment in my last few years that helped me figure out where I’m going and set some short-term and long-term goals. It was really a game changer for me.”
Even though Jay is busy wearing all of those hats, he’s looking forward to hearing from you if you have real estate needs or just want to talk to him about anything at all. Go ahead and give him a call. “I’m always on the phone. I’m happy to answer. You can also text me. Either way is fine.
Contents Provided by Frederick Advice Givers Podcast Interview #039.