New Principal Profile Q&A: Maria Clark, East Side Elementary

Question: What does the future of your new school look like under your leadership?
Answer: “East Side will continue the excellence that is already present there. They have an active school community and active parental involvement, which we will continue and extend. Also, while continuing the school’s high student achievement, we will look at the whole child and work to help each student feel valued and safe at school.”

Question: What most impresses you about Cobb?
Answer: “I started teaching in Cobb, and I just finished my 20th year. One of the things that impresses me the most is Cobb’s outstanding reputation. The district provides so much support to each elementary school, to the principals, and to the staff. You know who you can call if you don’t have an answer or you don’t know the answer. I love what Cobb stands for. The Superintendent’s priorities really help every school follow the same vision and mission with everyone moving towards the same cause.”

Question: Why did you decide to become a principal?
Answer: “To be honest, when starting my career, I was not one of those teachers who set out saying, ‘I want to be a principal someday.’ I loved being in the classroom. I loved doing what I did, but the different leaders that I worked under saw a natural leadership ability. They nurtured those abilities and kept pushing me forward to keep developing my leadership strengths. They really developed me and helped me be the best leader.”

Question: What’s an education memory that inspires you?
Answer: “My favorite memory about education, and about a certain educator, would have to be my dad. He went from being my P.E. teacher to my science teacher, and ultimately, principal of a K-12 school in Tennessee. Watching him take on that leadership role while handling a small community really showed me what leadership looks like. It helped me see that you need to be a servant leader. You’re in the trenches. You’re doing the work with your people. It showed me how you can truly make a difference in a community and in someone’s life.”

Question: Outside of school, where might students, parents, or staff members run into you?
Answer: “Outside of school, they will run into me all throughout the East Cobb community. I have two daughters who are East Cobb students, a middle schooler, and a rising 5th grader. We are very active in the East Cobb community. They are both on a competitive year-round swim team, and that keeps us quite busy.”