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South Carolina Principal Selected As 2019 National Principal of the Year

A South Carolina principal has been chosen as the National Association of Secondary School Principals 2019 National Principal of the Year.

As is customary practice for this award, Lucas Clamp, the principal of River Bluff High School in Lexington, S.C., was honored at a surprise pep rally at his school on Thursday.

Lexington County has nowlucas clamp.jpg landed the honor for two consecutive years: Last year's winner was Akil Ross, who the principal of Chapin High School, which is also in Lexington County, but in a different school district.

Clamp was chosen from a field of three finalists that included Paul Kelly, the principal of Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove, Ill., and Hannah Nieskens, the principal of Whitehall 6-12 school, in Whitehall, Montana.

South Carolina's Gov. Henry McMaster, state education superintendent Molly Spearman, Congressman Joe Wilson, and other local elected officials were on hand for Clamp's award.

Clamp is the founding principal of River Bluff High School. The school allows students to make their own schedules and use independent learning time. The school has a project-based learning model and intensely prioritizes empowering students. It fosters that environment through a program called CREW (Creating Relationships, Exploring Within) in which students meet weekly to focus on "character development" and "academic drive," according to the NASSP.

"The CREW experience helps students build confidence in a safe environment that allows them to learn, reflect, and identify their own quality work," the organization said in a press release announcing the award's winner.

Clamp has also worked to empower teachers and close the achievement gap in his school. After an intense focus on African American students, those students' math and English Language Arts test scores rose, the group said.

Test scores for black students rose to 68.6 from 42.9 in English/language arts and to 87.9 from 65.8 in math over three years, according to the NASSP.

"Luke is a champion for community building and for groups that are often disenfranchised—which can be a challenge for principals serving communities with wide economic diversity," said Annette Wallace, assistant superintendent in the Worcester County school district in Maryland, who served one of the judges. "His strategy for creating a robust culture and welcoming community while building River Bluff High School was visionary. He models the kind of intentional behavior it takes to include all children and amplify their voices through a variety of clubs, organizations, and informal structures. Luke will be a passionate voice for principals in the coming year."

Clamp also worked as an environmental science teacher and a football and baseball coach.

"Dr. Clamp is a true champion for all children," said Gregory Little, the superintendent of the Lexington School District. "I am thrilled that the hard work, dedication, and commitment he demonstrates on a daily basis is being recognized by such a prestigious award."

Image caption: Lucas Clamp, principal of River Bluff High School in Lexington, S.C. Photo courtesy the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

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