GREENSBURG — Greensburg Junior High School Principal Matthew Clifford was surprised by family, school officials, teachers, faculty and students Tuesday afternoon with a celebratory event in honor of his recently being named the 2019 State Middle School Principal of the Year.
With speeches and cheers, various schools officials and students congratulated the school principal for his achievement.
As previously reported by the Daily News, District Middle School Principals of the Year are elected by their peers. One principal is honored from each of the 12 districts. From these 12 District Middle School Principal winners, Clifford was chosen as the 2019 State Middle School Principal of the Year.
Clifford was named the District 10 Middle School Principal of the Year back in June. District 10 is located in southeast Indiana and is made up of Dearborn, Decatur, Fayette, Franklin, Hancock, Jennings, Ripley, Rush, Shelby and Union counties.
The school principal said he was completely surprised with the entire event.
“It was unexpected, it’s still just so surreal,” Clifford said. “There are so many wonderful educators in our community and abroad. The fact that they’re throwing my name out there is very humbling. This is as much the students’ and teachers’ story as it is mine. I just can’t be more proud.”
Superintendent Tom Hunter, who was recognized as the 2011 Indiana State Superintendent of the Year, spoke about the significance of Clifford receiving the award.
“I understand the significance of the award, and I’m just very proud of him because I just know how hard he works at the job,” Hunter said. “You just can’t put any more hours or effort into it than what he does. He’s all about one thing and one thing only: the kids. He wants every single one of them to be successful.”
The school district as a whole also released a statement to the Daily News earlier this week, lauding Clifford for his accomplishment.
“Mr. Clifford was recognized by his peers as having a profound effect on the staff and students of Greensburg Junior High School,” the school district said in a statement earlier this week. “He is an instructional leader that puts his vision into action and is fortunate to have a staff of professionals that shares the common vision of putting students at the forefront of every decision and program in place at GJHS. We are grateful that Mr. Clifford has been recognized for his leadership as the principal of Greensburg Junior High School.”
Clifford’s wife, Ashley, and two sons, Wyatt and Ethan, were there to support him.
He told the Daily News that his job is very time consuming and thanked his family for standing by his side.
Clifford has also said the award affirms the work the team at the high school is doing, and is a reflection of that. Again, he says it is their story, not his.
The school district also presented Clifford with a plaque, reading “Principal Matt Clifford Day.”