Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Lance McClard was named Missouri’s National Distinguished Principal by the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP) during the MAESP 2019 Leadership Conference March 2.
McClard is principal of Millersville Elementary School and North Elementary School in the Jackson R-2 School District.
The announcement of his achievement was a very emotional moment, McClard said.
“When I learned that I was named the National Distinguished Principal from Missouri, a flood of emotions washed over me,” he said. “I’m grateful, proud, excited and in disbelief.”
The surprise and honor were magnified, he said, when he learned he was chosen from among administrators at more than 2,000 schools in Missouri, McClard said.
“For me to be selected meant that all of the work the adults in our schools show on a daily basis was being recognized,” he said. “I am most proud of what it says about our faculty, staff, volunteers, parents and students at North Elementary and Millersville Elementary.”
After living for most of his childhood in Cape Girardeau, McClard became a student at Jackson High School during his freshman year after his father took a position as assistant principal of the Jackson High School. Upon graduating from Jackson, he enrolled at Southeast.
“I started out in pre-med, however, the course work didn’t spark my interest, and while I had always fought following in my dad’s footsteps, I decided to follow my true passion and become a teacher,” he said. “One of the best parts of this career is seeing the positive impact that you have made in others’ lives.”
McClard received a Bachelor of Science in Education, elementary education, in 2002, a Master of Arts in educational administration in 2009, and a Specialist in educational administration certificate in 2009, all from Southeast.
Additionally, he is an active member of MAESP and is currently a Southeast Regional Representative on the MAESP Board of Directors. He is a mentor for the Missouri Leadership Development System and serves as a moderator for the Twitter chats #LearnAP and #DitchBook, which connects other educators nationally. He is also the Rural Lead with a ConnectEd Learning team, a non-profit organization in St. Louis, Missouri, to support educators. Throughout his career, he has presented at numerous conferences.
He says his time at Southeast was most beneficial because it gave him the opportunity to work inside schools and learn by doing.
“I have formed connections with former undergraduate and graduate professors and students that allow me to continue my learning long after graduation,” he said. “Southeast has long been regarded as a strong university in the education field. Southeast provided affordable classes with courses that rivaled the more expensive universities, and the graduate work provided through Southeast was led by professors with real field experience. I learned how to be an instructional leader from former principals, superintendents and central office personnel.”
McClard said he hopes to continue helping area schools become the best in the nation “through innovation, academics and focusing on the whole-child by developing leadership skills, people skills and increasing their emotional intelligence quotient.”
He also hopes to make future connections with other educators on a global level.
McClard and his wife Laura are the parents of three children, Ainsley, Finn and Sullivan. He enjoys reading, listening to podcasts and attending workshops. McClard also volunteers at his church and coaches youth sports.