As the school year completes for IJP, the board and staff have also welcomed their newly appointed principal, Felicia Clotworthy.
Clotworthy joined IJP school with more than 30 years of education experience and has recently served as an IJP Advisory Board member.
The Hyde Park native was immersed in education since she was young, with her mother, now a retired teacher, to look up to.
“I grew up in the world of education, most importantly ingrained in finding the joy in education,” Clotworthy said. “You have to have joy in education and understanding the ‘why’ behind leadership and what fuels you.”
Clotworthy and her family moved out of the city in 2021 and have been drawn to community life and Infant Jesus of Prague.
“The outreach from the local businesses and the mayor has been amazing and welcoming,” she said. “I’m blessed to continue the legacy of an already well-functioning, strong school with dedicated faculty and staff members, and parents committed to the school, and students who love being here.”
Clotworthy addressed her philosophy of being an avid and continuous learner.
“It’s willing to evolve and understand, to be introspective,” she said. “What else can I do to keep myself fresh in multiple areas and within a learning community? It’s the idea of learning, parents learning, students learning, teachers learning.”
In addition to maintaining the learning culture, future “Learning Series” workshops for parents, educators and students will be hosted, she said.
“I would love to bring what I call ‘Learning Series,’ where experts from various fields on diversity equity, inclusion belonging, SEL (social and emotional learning), neurodivergent diversity discussions, and invite families to participate,” she said.
Further agendas in the school year will help promote connections for difficult conversations for students, and parents on social-emotional needs, how to properly and safely have conversations on trauma.
“IJP already has a thriving and solid social-emotional program; as acting principal, I plan to collaborate with the teachers and look at what is in place a little deeper, more in-depth their social-emotional programming approach, what they do, what they have been doing consistently that’s been working, and so forth.”
In addition, Clotworthy is involved in organizations like Facing History and Ourselves. Its primary mission is to use history lessons to challenge teachers and students to stand up against antisemitism, bigotry and hate. The organization produces content incorporating resources and implements many units and curricula.
“I have been blessed to work with Facing History and Ourselves, currently almost 50 years old as an organization; they have consistently produced fantastic content, which I want to integrate and implement within our middle school social science and ELA (English Language & Arts) curriculum.”
Teacher morale will continue to be a “paramount focus,” Clotworthy added, “It starts with humanizing our teachers, they have feelings and lives, and they pour themselves into our work, which takes an exceptional individual who has a heart for humans.”
Clotworthy’s plans as principal also intend to boost the continuance of these conversations, “continuing to see what we are offering and how we continue to evolve, how to continue to build upon an already great entity.”
“I take this role seriously because I am standing on strong shoulders. A school like this needs to ensure to have strong leadership; Mrs. Kelly is not only the pillar of her community, she is like history, she’s the pillar of strength, she continued the life and the heart in this school, and you can not leave a school that is successful to anyone. Mrs. Kelly is an amazing leader, and we want to continue that leadership, and that is a huge responsibility that is not for the faint of heart; I’m excited to carry on the legacy.”