2019 Assistant Principal of the Year-
Susan Summers – District 3
An assistant principal at Homestead High School, Susan Summers taught social studies, ranging from seventh grade to AP Economics, AP US History, and AP World History in the Southwest Allen County Schools where she was named district Teacher of the Year in 2002. Her proudest accomplishment is the expansion of the dual credit program which has seen an increase from 103 to 1015 participating students who earned nearly 11,000 credits for a savings in college tuition of $7.4 million. Having established a system to ensure both the eligibility of students for the program and dual credit certification of teachers, she advocated for the expansion of course offerings based on both teacher talents and student interests. In addition, she has implemented a new teacher orientation program that provides extensive and in-depth information, training, and mentoring to every teacher new to the high school. Susan’s principal says, “She is the rare person who combines creative talent with the linear thinking skills to complete tasks in ways that would, and do, escape others.” A graduate of Ball State University, she earned both a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Studies Education and a Master of Arts degree in educational administration and supervision. Of her fifteen years in the classroom before entering administration, Susan worked with students as an instructor in the classroom and as a coach on the track at South Decatur High School, Woodside Middle School, and Homestead High School.
2019 Elementary School Principal of the Year-
Ashlee Bruggenschmidt – District 11
Ashlee Bruggenschmidt completed her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education at the University of Southern Indiana and earned her Master of Education degree in school administration from Indiana State University. After two years as assistant principal, she became principal of Sharon Elementary School (Warrick County School Corporation), According to her superintendent, Ashlee transformed Sharon Elementary from a school performing at the Academic Watch level and reporting a Free and Reduced Lunch population of 38% to one that has earned an Exemplary or A grade for nine of the past ten years. By working to improve her staff and school climate and by building relationships with churches and businesses, she has created a community-wide culture of support for students and their families. Academic challenges, however, are not the only obstacles she has overcome. After her oldest child, Kate, was killed in an ATV accident, Ashlee worked tirelessly for the passage of HEA1200/Kate’s law, requiring children under eighteen to wear a helmet on or in any off-road vehicle. Her efforts did not stop there. She went on to create the Indiana ATV Safety Coalition, to patent an ATV safety robot, and to fund an all-inclusive playground at the Boonville Youth Softball Complex as well as ten scholarships for graduating seniors through the Play for Kate Foundation she founded.
2019 Middle School Principal of the Year-
Matt Clifford – District 10
Matt Clifford took his Bachelor’s degree in music education at DePauw University and his master’s degree in educational administration and supervision at Ball State. He began his career as band director at Greensburg High School and subsequently became principal at Greensburg Junior High School. Matt is particularly proud of changing the master schedule to accommodate targeted academic intervention in ELA and math and to increase instructional time in all classes. In addition, he volunteered his school to pilot the one to one Digital Learning Initiative in his district with great success. Dissatisfied with the data coming from the off-site alternative school, Matt brought that program back into the middle school, making significant changes to improve academic success, attendance, and behavioral statistics. PBIS at his school addresses lowering the number of suspensions, expulsions and other behavioral challenges. He attributes yearly improvement in overall test performance to the model of instruction created by his staff under his direction. He has also done a makeover of the teacher evaluation process, winning appreciation from his staff. His superintendent writes, “Mr. Clifford is a transformational leader who has shifted from being a building manager to truly being an education leader.”
2019 High School Principal of the Year-
Tom Harmas – District 5
A graduate of Indiana University, where he earned both his Bachelor of Science degree and master’s degree in secondary education, Tom Harmas graduated from the Experiential Program for Preparing School Principals at Butler University, earned his educational specialist degree from Indiana State University, and pursued his doctorate in educational leadership at Oakland City University. After eight years as a teacher at Indian Creek High School in the Nineveh Hensley Jackson School Corporation, Tom became High School principal at Tipton High School and then High School principal at Avon High School. Then, in 1998, he took up the role of principal at Mt. Vernon Middle School and later at Creekside Middle School (Carmel Clay Schools). In 2017, he became principal of Carmel High School. Concerned about mental health among students, teachers, and parents, Tom has led the creation of programs to inform all stakeholders of the best mental health practices. With over 75% of students trained in Ask-Listen-Tell Suicide Prevention, his focus on building relationships has resulted in the creation of adult clubs and of two mental health awareness nights open to the community and offering breakout sessions dealing with topics such as raising the adolescent, stress and the adolescent, drug awareness, and parent mental health. His superintendent characterizes Tom as a collaborative servant leader.