Lakeland High School Principal Eva Merkel admits that, going into education, she originally didn’t want to be a principal. “I prefer to be behind the scenes,” Merkel said.
Obviously, becoming a principal worked as Merkel has been named the District 3 Indiana Association of School Principals (IASP) High School Principal of the Year. The district includes LaGrange, Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.
Merkel will be recognized at the IASP’s annual Fall Professional Conference on November 24. The association will also announce the State High School Principal of the Year, chosen from the 12 district winners.
Merkel was nominated by Lakeland graduate Monica Stidham as part of her Spirit of Leadership Award last year. Merkel is in her fifth year at LHS, coming in at the start of the district’s Lakeland Leading EDGE program. Prior to that, she served as principal at New Haven High School and worked with the East Allen County School District for a total of 12 years. She began her education career as a chemistry and biology teacher at Frankfurt High School.
“This has been such a supportive environment,” Merkel said of her time with Lakeland schools. “The central administration office is very supportive and at every level, everybody is about the kids.” That support from all aspects of the school “make it fun,” she added.
Merkel admits she likes to be behind the scenes, but sees what she does as just that. “We have created a collaborative effort,” she said. “We share the leadership.” She greatly enjoys working with the rest of the staff and loves their creativity.
Yet, despite seeing herself as being behind the scenes, supporting and encouraging the rest of the staff, Merkel is just as likely to be found in the halls and classrooms with the students themselves. And the idea of going to the principal’s office has changed. “Now going to the principal’s office can be a good thing,” Merkel noted. She interacts with students often, especially seniors who are working on their senior and community projects.
“We’re preparing kids for a future we can’t predict,” Merkel said. “We teach them to be successful in whatever challenges they may face.”
Merkel also works to do what she can to help students get the best start that they can as they go through high school, finding dual credit courses and other beneficial programs. Sometimes, it’s working with a student to help them earn the credits they need to graduate high school.
Add all of that up and, for Merkel, it equals a job that she finds fun and rewarding.