Students, families and staff are celebrating the career of retiring principal Anne Werk and greeting incoming principal Jason Clark at St. Paul Lutheran Church and School, 31 Washington Ave., Batavia.
Werk is retiring after more than two decades as a teacher and principal at St. Paul’s. As of July 1, Clark, who is a lifelong member of St. Paul’s church, received unanimous approval from the school board and church congregation to succeed Werk.
Clark said his ratification brought him excitement and relief, but also sadness at the departure of Werk and her husband, Allen, who is the pastor at St. Paul’s. Clark will continue to serve as a second- and third-grade teacher in addition to his new responsibilities as principal of grades K–5.
His initial goal is “hopefully just maintaining some stability in this time of change,” Clark said. “Being that I’ve been here for 17 years, it’s not a brand new face leading the school.”
Clark has several initiatives for the school as he steps into his new position. They include increasing funding and sponsorship, incorporating more technology into classroom learning and boosting enrollment.
“The last couple of years, our numbers have been down a little bit,” Clark said. “So, I’m just looking forward to hopefully building that back up and seeing what we can do for the future of the school.”
The Werks will be moving to Indiana to be closer to relatives. Anne Werk said she will stay updated with school and church events on social media and serve as a resource for Clark when he needs support.
Clark said he will follow Werk’s advice of relying on his faith and school staff as he enters the principal role. He described Werk as a great mentor, both personally and professionally.
Werk’s career was honored at a retirement celebration June 19. Alumni students spoke about the impact Werk has had on them. Werk, however, feels her most meaningful experiences at St. Paul’s are teaching and overseeing students as they mature.
“I love being a part of the children’s lives and their families’ lives … and seeing growth over the years,” Werk said.
“When you get to retirement age, you start talking about your legacy and about what you’re leaving behind,” Werk said. “I hope that I’ve made a difference in the lives of the kids and their families.”
Anne Werk (left) and Jason Clark (right) in the St. Paul's school library.
Photo by Lauren Leone.