Each year, the NASSP Principal of the Year program recognizes outstanding middle level and high school principals who have made amazing contributions to their profession and to students’ learning. Earlier this year, NASSP announced its three finalist and has selected Dr. Lucas Clamp, principal of River Bluff High School in Lexington, South Carolina, has been selected as the 2019 National Principal of the Year winner! Since being chosen as the founding principal of River Bluff in 2011, with doors opening in 2013, Dr. Clamp has fostered a culture of leadership and engagement. Through the unique desire to connect with each person—whether student or staff—Dr. Clamp is devoted to developing individual skills and talents that ultimately lead to a collective contribution that will change the world.
Under Dr. Clamp’s leadership, learning at River Bluff begins with the student in mind using a backwards design process that focuses on future graduates. With independent learning times” within a flexible modular schedule, students make decisions and manage their own time in a challenging, active, and meaningful ways—leading to significant increases in achievement. From 2014 to 2017, graduation rates at River Bluff have increased from 81 percent to 94 percent, and ELA and math scores have risen from 42.9 percent to 68.6 percent and 65.8 percent to 87.9 percent, for African American Students.
“You can’t have real student learning without real student empowerment, and Dr. Clamp shows us what empowering students can really achieve,” stated JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “As a powerful multiple of effective practice, he dedicates his focus to the student and uses compassionate relationships to build trust, provide support, and give them the resources they need to take control of their own education.”
This progressive leadership style has created tangible, positive change in local and international communities. Dr. Clamp’s focus on student engagement has led to River Bluff’s National Student Council Leadership team to be recognized as a Gold Level Designation through the Jefferson Awards Foundation for three community service projects: the adoption of more than 100 children living in poverty to provide gifts over the Christmas holiday; connection with a student in Zimbabwe selling her jewelry in the U.S. to raise money for her college tuition; and working with local agencies to bring therapeutic support to River Bluff’s students and staff. “Character is developed through service,” says Dr. Clamp. “My leadership style begins with relationships, leading to strong advocacy and support for students, ensuring both students and teachers have the skills and resources necessary to see achievement thrive.”
“There is much to appreciate about Dr. Clamp,” says a student. “His job does not stop as just being the principal of River Bluff High School; it stretches into many diverse fields … Every morning he welcomes me to school by name. He asks how we are doing and is always there to provide positive encouragement.”
Dr. Clamp also pays attention to his teachers: Aware of the teacher shortage and how societal changes impact recruitment and retention, he helped develop a strategic onboarding process for all new faculty members that includes monthly support through dialogue and interaction. In order to meet teachers “where they are,” he and his team intentionally differentiated professional learning to focus on individual goals established by teachers and based on feedback to grow instructional practice. This helped teachers create customized, digital portfolios that included student artifacts and their reflections to evidence professional growth.
“The culture at River Bluff is intentionally designed to be highly collaborative, with teachers working together to support innovation and learning,” says a River Bluff math teacher, who has worked with Dr. Clamp for over a decade. “Dr. Clamp has supported that culture by providing dedicated time for collaboration, analysis of student data, and discussion of best practices.”
As an exemplary principal who serves as a model for compassionate school leadership, NASSP is honored to recognize Dr. Clamp for this prestigious award.
Please join us in celebrating his achievement!
To learn more about the NASSP Principal of the Year program, visit www.nassp.org/poy.