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Five Questions with Valerie Clark: Ernie Pyle Administrator Discusses National Principals Month

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) recently asked Valerie Clark, head administrator at Ernie Pyle School 90, what National Principals Month Means to her.

October is National Principals Month, which gives the school community the perfect opportunity to recognize that position’s significant influence. Principals set the tone for the building, keeping things running smoothly from the cafeteria to classrooms and the playground.

Clark was named the district’s Principal of the Year during a surprise announcement before students and staff on Oct. 23.

Q— Who or what inspired you to become a principal, and how has your journey shaped your role today? 

A — I was inspired to become a principal after working for some great leaders in the district who positively impacted me when I was a teacher.  They each told me I was a natural leader and encouraged me to obtain my MS in Education and Administration Certification.   

Q — What are the most rewarding aspects of being a principal and working in education?

A — The most rewarding aspect of being a principal is rewarding students for making growth.  Growing academically, socially, and behaviorally is just as important as being proficient on standardized tests. 

Q — How do you foster a positive school culture and build strong relationships within your school community?

A — I foster a positive school culture and build strong relationships with my school community by being present and engaging at school and community events.  In addition, I take the time to listen to suggestions from all stakeholders and make modifications to enhance the school experience for Ernie Pyle School 90 scholars. 

Q — How do you handle challenges and difficult decisions that come with being a principal, and what keeps you motivated during tough times?

A — I handle difficult decisions by using the resources that IPS provides.  The IPS Code of Conduct and board policies have been instrumental in helping me make fair decisions around discipline, staffing, curriculum, etc.  The School Improvement goals keep me motivated because our scholars deserve a quality education in a safe learning environment. 

Q— As we celebrate National Principal Month, is there a message or advice you’d like to share with your fellow educators, students, and parents? 

A — The work we do cannot be taken lightly.  Not only are our scholars and parents counting on us, but the world expects us to send them critical thinkers capable of making this world a better place.