METAMORA – As an educator, Josh Clark holds a special esteem for high school students.
“I generally enjoy being around teenage students,” he said. “I enjoy hearing their opinions. I enjoy watching them learn. They’re very attuned to society, to what’s happening, and it’s fun watching them form their own opinions about the world.”
He’s also an advocate of innovation. “Technologically, it’s a great time to be an educator,” he said.
So Clark believes he’ll feel at home as the principal of Evergreen High School beginning Aug. 17. He replaces Mark Basilius, who has retired.
He was recommended by a panel consisting of Superintendent Jim Wyse, faculty members, and administrators, and approved by the Board of Education. Clark, 30, said he didn’t initially intend to pursue a position as a principal. But after completing college internships “I found I really enjoyed the work and the hands-on, everyday aspects of running a high school.”
The 2003 Archbold High School graduate earned a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary English education at Huntington University in Indiana. He continued with a Master’s degree in administration and supervision at Bowling Green State University.
His education was followed by teaching 11th- and 12th-grade English for a year at Wabash City Schools in Indiana, for two years at Edgerton High School, and for four years at Tinora High School. He won the prestigious Franklin B. Walter teacher’s award in 2010 and 2014.
Now facing his first assignment as a high school principal, Clark said he wants to acclimate himself to the culture of the Evergreen school district and the climate of his assigned building before he considers making changes.
“There are things I’d potentially like to roll out, but the first year is to observe what’s going on,” he said. “There will be no radical changes.”
One thing he will implement immediately, however, is a high school leadership team, a collaborative effort between himself, teachers, and staff. The team will examine existing policies, make revisions where necessary, and potentially introduce new initiatives.
“It’s just to give everybody a voice,” he said. “I’d like to build on the tradition of excellence that’s already established here. With all the state changes, it’s a great time to be innovative.”
He said he’ll encourage teachers to explore different areas of professional development, adding, “They have proven year after year that they’re top-notch.
“From what I’ve experienced thus far, this is a place with a lot of pride and a rich history, and a place that’s open to trying new things. I want to see Google Classroom expanded. With so much technology, the world is a much smaller place, and that’s a great opportunity for our kids to be involved, not only in the local community, but with the world.”
He wants Evergreen High School to be a place that isn’t afraid to take educational risks and to branch out.
“At the end of the day, it’s the teachers who make that happen,” Clark said. “When you have the right people around you, great things happen. From what I’ve seen, they’re not afraid to go the extra mile.”
Clark also wants to remain open to students, parents, and community members. He plans to meet with the student council on a monthly basis, and to attend school and community events. He began that practice last year by going to an FFA banquet, the school musical, and the spring band concert.
“The community here has been fantastic, as has the teaching staff. It seems like a tight-knit community, and one I’m excited to be part of,” Clark said. “It’s a very unique district, where the school’s very much the community. I want to be as visible as possible.”
He also wants to provide students with a safe environment where they can thrive.
“You’re helping to mold the next voting base,” he said. “We need to focus on students as individuals as well. I want to provide our students with the best educational experience possible. The more the students see me, the more we can interact, the better.”
Board Vice President Gary Pennington said Clark was selected to fulfill the school district’s goal of hiring a younger individual who could offer new ideas and work well with new mandates from the state.
Wyse said Clark is an accomplished educator with eight years of teaching experience. “He brings a wealth of knowledge to Evergreen High School. He will become, I believe, an excellent administrator,” he said.
Clark said the warm welcome the school district and the local people have given him, his wife Cindy, and their children, Landon and Lydia, has only supported his decision to become Evergreen High School principal.
“It’s really a unique place, and it’s been a very easy transition to make because of the people in the community,” he said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.