Amy Berns hasn’t personally interacted with the entire student
body at Edison
School of the Arts
in her new role as vice principal (yet), but she’s already
shown her support for the talented K–8 students.


She was one of the many faces in the audience when students
performed “The Lion King” in late May — closing the curtain on years of performances
from their old stage at IPS School 70 (formerly Nicholson Performing Arts
Academy).Amy Berns


“Sitting in the audience I thought, ‘Oh my God, these are
our (IPS) kids,’” said Berns, the mother of four boys. “I remember feeling so
proud of what they accomplished and I told the staff and Mr. (Nathan) Tuttle,
‘You know, I don’t know how you guys feel because you’ve been a part of these
kids every day, but just coming from an outside person in to watch, it (the
performance) was just outstanding.’”


The performing arts aspect of Edison is just one of the
reasons Berns, who is going into her 11th year with IPS, took the
vice principal job at Edison. She spent six years as a classroom teacher, then
became a building literacy coach. The last two years, she’s served as a
district literacy coach/content specialist with the department of Curriculum
and Instruction.


“I thoroughly love the performing arts piece because going
through school myself, performing arts (marching band) was a huge part of my
life. So that was kind of like an added bonus being at this school,” said Berns,
sitting in one of the leather chairs in the expansive front office at Edison.
“I just know that when kids have that connection to performing arts or visual
arts, it can change their life. It creates avenues for our kids that they may
not have opportunities for otherwise.”


What really drew Berns to Edison was principal Nathan


“His energy … you can feel his passion, and he runs a smooth,
well-organized building,” she said. “The teachers are phenomenal here.
Everybody pitches in to take parts, so it’s just not one person’s job. Plus, I
felt like Nathan and I really work well and jive well together with our
personalities. He always takes every moment to teach me something, which I
really appreciate.”


The educational chemistry Tuttle and Berns have developed when
Tuttle was the new principal at Nicholson and reached out for a coach to
“audit” his building. Berns answered the call.


“He wanted someone with ‘fresh eyes’ to come in and give him
feedback on things that were working and strategies that could help the
teachers and even the building grow,” said Berns, who, even after her
assessment was complete, continued to support the school. “We just really hit
it off and worked well together.”


Berns had mentioned to Tuttle that if a VP position ever
became available at his school, she was interested in the job. When the
position was added for the 2016–2017 school year, it was a no-brainer for


“I was flattered and shocked that she would like to be our
VP,” he said. “I know that Amy could get a job absolutely anywhere with her
skill set, awards and work ethic and she chose me. I couldn’t have been more


Throughout her years with IPS, Berns has worked at Booth
Tarkington School 92, James Russell Lowell School 51 and at IPS School 60
(before it became the Butler Lab School).


“I think Amy will
bring even more excitement and productivity to our very successful team. … She
also brings a curricular background that is unmatched,” said Tuttle. “This will
get our new-to-each-other teachers planning and teaching together much more
quickly without having to feel things out.”  


With only a few weeks left before students walk into a new
school building, Tuttle and Berns have been busy supervising work crews,
working on curriculum and interviewing for additional staff. They currently
meet “daily as we remodel our building and talk nightly,” said Tuttle. “We
share ideas, agendas and discuss reasoning of decisions. She is already taking
the lead on overseeing our scheduling team, grant committee, attending
neighborhood retreats and helping to organize our building resources … she is
always looking to do more.”


Her main responsibility, however, will be overseeing Middle
School Aspects. When the doors open on August 1, 2016, Edison will welcome
three sixth-grade classes, three seventh-grade classes and one eighth-grade
class. The school was formerly for K–5 students.


Berns will have a birds-eye view of everything from her
office, which is located in one of the turns along the second-floor hallway. But
she’s not planning to be in there often. The classroom is where students, staff
and parents will most often find her.


“Our main thing is to be visual in the classroom,” Berns said
about both she and Tuttle. “Most of the time you’ll probably see both of us
running around in classrooms, hallways, working with kids, and then we’ll get
our other duties done, too.”


With the past few years spent in coaching roles, Berns is
excited to begin working with kids again on a daily basis. She credits her degree
in social work from Ball State University with allowing her to connect well
with students and parents. She also has a master’s degree in special education
and a Master in Arts Education in Administration and Supervision.


“As a classroom teacher, I was always extremely strong with
forming relationships with the parents and the students,” said Berns. “It’s
critical to make sure that parents feel a part of their children’s education
and feel welcomed into a building. That’s a big strength in what I (bring).”