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Five Questions with Daria Parham 

Principal Daria Parham poses with Michelle Jackson (left), IPS Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, and IPS Supt. Dr Aleesia Johnson (right).

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) recently asked Principal Daria Parham about the first week of classes at Frederick Douglass School 19, which merged this summer with Paul I. Miller School 114 – creating a vibrant, newly consolidated K-8 school.  

This transition is part of Rebuilding Stronger, an initiative to consolidate its schools into zones, streamline resources, and ensure consistent, high-quality education across the district. 

Parham was a natural choice for the position after being honored as the 2023 Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) Principal of the Year at Paul I. Miller School 114.  

Q – Looking back at that first day, what are your thoughts? 

A – The first day of school is a day of promise, potential, and new beginnings. As principal, I had the privilege of witnessing a truly great first day that set the tone for an incredible academic year ahead.  But it didn’t happen overnight. It took months of meticulous planning and preparation to culminate in a nearly flawless first day.  

The anticipation was palpable as our dedicated team of educators and staff worked tirelessly to create an environment that would foster enthusiasm and curiosity. From fresh bulletin boards adorned with welcoming messages to meticulously arranged classrooms, every detail was thoughtfully orchestrated to ensure that our students felt excited and at ease.  
Walking through the hallways on the first day, we were greeted by radiant smiles and excited chatter. The energy was infectious, spreading a sense of camaraderie and unity among students and teachers alike. Witnessing students reuniting with friends, sharing stories of their summer adventures, and making new connections was truly heartwarming. These initial interactions set the stage for meaningful relationships to blossom throughout the year. 
Q – Were you happy with the learning environment?  
A – In the classrooms, the air was charged with excitement as teachers engaged students with captivating lessons and relationship-building activities. I knew that it was going to be extremely important to establish clear expectations and routines for our students the first week.  The first days of school were reserved for teachers to build relationships and establish a positive learning environment.  The fervor for learning was palpable, as students eagerly participated in discussions and collaborative activities. These activities laid the groundwork for a positive learning environment.
Q – Merging two school cultures was an incredible feat. What stood out in your mind? 

A – It was extremely important to ensure all staff, students, and families felt welcomed. Creating opportunities for team and relationship-building activities was a high priority. One of the most remarkable aspects of the first day was the sense of unity that permeated the entire school. Parents, teachers, staff, and students came together as a cohesive community, demonstrating unwavering support for one another. The spirit of collaboration and shared goals echoed our belief that education is a collective endeavor, and together, we can achieve greatness.  
Q – What role did back-to-school nights conducted the week before the start of school play in melding the two cultures?  

A — The success of the first day was further amplified by the well-attended back-to-school nights. Parents and guardians enthusiastically participated, embracing the opportunity to connect with teachers, gain insights into the curriculum, and actively engage in their child’s education. These vibrant gatherings not only reaffirmed the strong partnership between home and school but also highlighted the immense value that our community places on education. 
Our merging of two distinct school cultures was a harmonious and promising endeavor. The exchange of ideas, traditions, and perspectives resulted in a beautiful fusion that enriched the overall school environment. Witnessing the seamless integration of diverse backgrounds and experiences was a testament to the openness and inclusivity that defines our IPS family. 
Q – What’s next for your school? 

A — As we reflect on this fantastic first day, we are filled with optimism and excitement for the year ahead. We are committed to fostering an environment where every student feels valued, empowered, and inspired to reach their full potential. With a dedicated team, supportive families, and enthusiastic students, we are confident that this academic year will be a journey of growth, achievement, and endless possibilities. 
The first day of school at IPS was an exceptional experience that showcased the passion and dedication of our school community. As principal, I am honored to lead such a dynamic and vibrant learning environment, and we eagerly anticipate the wonderful moments that the upcoming days, weeks, and months will bring. Here’s to a remarkable year of learning, discovery, and success at Indianapolis Public Schools!