A Phenomenal Woman
Deborah M. Clark
We are elated to celebrate the anniversary of our principal, Deborah M. Clark. Mrs. Clark has been the principal of Skinner West School for twenty years, and has worked for Chicago Public Schools for 41 years. Wow! When did her career begin?
Mrs. Clark attended St. Monica Catholic Elementary School and Xavier Prep High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. She started kindergarten at age 4 and went to college at age 16. Mrs. Clark attended Louisiana State University and majored in Education. She dearly loves her hometown, and visits quite often to spend time with her loving mother, family and friends. Mrs. Clark's first teaching job was in Atlanta, Georgia. She relocated from Atlanta to Evanston, Illinois, and began a new career in education at Jamieson Elementary School, where she served as a 4th and 6th - Grade Teacher and later as Assistant Principal. While at Jamieson, Mrs. Clark received an Honorary Award through the recommendation of parents and students. She received the Kate Maremont Dedicated Teacher Award. During this time, Mrs. Clark was invited to attend the Harvard Principal Center. She was the only Assistant Principal invited to attend this prestigious institution. Mrs. Clark left her beloved Jamieson when she applied for the principalship at Skinner Classical School (former name for Skinner West School). She left her interview that day, and immediately received a call, before making it home, asking her to take the principalship at Skinner School. She gladly accepted the position. Mrs. Clark, so eager to begin her journey at Skinner, began interviewing teachers at a small cafe located near the school.
Mrs. Clark has diligently and lovingly served Skinner for twenty years. She contributes her success to the support of her loving mentor, Elizabeth Brayton. Mrs. Brayton sat with Mrs. Clark to support her at the beginning of her career at Skinner School. Mrs. Clark honors Mrs. Brayton each year during the 8th-Grade Graduation Ceremony by presenting the Elizabeth Brayton Award to a Superstar who is an avid reader. Mrs. Brayton had a love for reading.
Mrs. Clark has been a part of the many changes and milestones of the school. When she arrived at Skinner, the student population was 250. Over the twenty years, the student population has tripled. Mrs. Clark listened and responded to the needs of parents when they asked, "Where do we go for 7th & 8th grade?" Mrs. Clark immediately said to CPS, "I would like to offer a 7th & 8th program to my Superstars." CPS granted Mrs. Clark this request. Skinner West is the only Classical School that offers a 7th & 8th -Grade Program to Classical Students. She is also the first and only Classical Principal to add two or more classrooms per grade level to this program. Through the restructuring of CPS, she has adamantly insisted that Skinner continues to serve students with Special Needs. Mrs. Clark always says, "There is such a demand for Skinner School, I wish I could take all students interested in attending Skinner."
Mrs. Clark advocated for our beautiful new building over her twenty years. She attended many meetings, along with many supportive Skinner families, to voice her concerns that her Superstars deserve an environment that is more conducive to learning. Finally, CPS said yes to the Skinner community and the new Skinner School was under construction. While plans were being made, Mrs. Clark, with the support of staff, parents and CPS orchestrated a challenging move to Sojourner Truth School, which housed our Superstars for three years until the new building was built. She was later presented with the idea of integrating a neighborhood component into Skinner School. Mrs. Clark wholeheartedly and with open arms embraced this request, and only asked for two things: space and equity for all! Mrs. Clark always says, "My Superstars deserve the best!" and "I want my Superstars happy!" This is seen in every aspect of the culture of Skinner School. Mrs. Clark affectionately came up with the name of Superstars for her students, and made our school song entitled, "I've got that Skinner Spirit Down in my Heart." While at Skinner School, Mrs. Clark received the Outstanding Principal School Leadership Award. This award was presented by the Chicago Principal Association and LaSalle Bank. She was recently presented the Principal Achievement Award by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.
We celebrate this phenomenal woman for her hard work and dedication to Skinner School! Mrs. Clark is unrelenting in all her efforts for the students, staff and families at Skinner West School. She works very late hours, weekends and holidays to insure that her Superstars are receiving a quality education.
In the past five years, students in the exceeds category on the ISAT have increased to as high as 76 percent in reading and 80 percent in math. In addition, the school has received the prestigious honor of being nominated for the National Blue Ribbon Award. Skinner West has consistently ranked in the top ten schools in the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago!
Kudos to this living legend!!!
We love you and appreciate all that you have done and are doing for the Skinner West Community!!!! Happy 20th Anniversary, Mrs. Clark!!!!!
A special thanks goes out to your supportive and loving husband, two daughters and granddaughter for sharing you with your extended family at Skinner West.