James Clemens principal named Alabama’s Principal of the Year for 2018-2019

MADISON, Ala. - It's always nice to see those long hours and days at work pay off. That was the case at a Tennessee Valley school Thursday. But the celebration was a complete surprise for the person being honored.

James Clemens High School Principal Dr. Brian Clayton had no idea what was going on when he was greeted by superintendent Robby Parker. The head of Madison City Schools walked up to a microphone and said, “The reason we are here is because Dr. Clayton is the state Principal of the Year."

Clayton was selected out of eight finalists as Alabama’s Principal of the Year by the Alabama Association of Secondary School Principals and American Fidelity.

An educator for 24 years, Clayton joined James Clemens as principal when it opened in 2012. “I can't do this kind of thing by myself,” he said. “We have a lot of people, a lot of great students, a lot of great people working with us."

Clayton is proud of what his team has been able to do for students. “I always say we have high expectations,” he said. “But we have a lot of high support and that makes, I don't want to say it's easy to be successful, but it makes it not quite as hard."

Interior elements is giving Clayton an office makeover. “That's going to be the coolest principal's office in Alabama,” Dan Chappell told the group gathered in the lobby.

Clayton will represent Alabama in the national competition in Washington, D.C. “I really would have some things I’d like to say up there. That we need a lot more support for public education than we're getting" he said with a smile.

He’s honored to represent Alabama. "There are a lot of great principals in this state that work really hard and in a lot tougher situations sometimes,” he said. “I'm very proud to be that person."

Clayton will be recognized at an awards luncheon in June when the Council for Leaders in Alabama holds its convention in Mobile. He'll also be honored by the Alabama Association of Secondary School Principals in November.