Answering the call to serve: Seymour teacher named principal of Trinity

When opportunity came knocking, a Seymour educator answered the call.

Seymour High School social studies teacher Clayton Darlage, 34, has accepted the offer to become the new principal of Trinity Lutheran High School.

He will take over for Principal Ben Stellwagen, who recently resigned to take a position at Concordia University in Nebraska after leading Trinity for two years.

Darlage, a 2002 graduate of Seymour High School, will transition into his new duties at the end of the current school year.

He is a lifetime member of St. John’s Lutheran Church Sauers, where he has served as the church grounds trustee. He also is a school board member and chairman at St. John’s Lutheran School and has taught at both the middle and high school level and coached high school football and basketball.

“After much prayer and consideration, I believe this decision is one directed by our Lord and Savior, and I am humbled to serve our church and community in this manner,” he said. “I am looking forward to using the skills and experiences that God has granted me to lead Trinity Lutheran High School in the years ahead.”

Tom Barker, chairman of the board of directors of the South Central Lutheran Association for Secondary Education, said 28 candidates were considered for the position.

“We were looking at the quality of the candidate that met our needs, and Clayton interviewed very well,” Barker said. “He had a lot of the characteristics we were looking for in a principal.”

It also helped that he knew most of the pastors in the area and is a member of St. John’s, Barker said.

“Some of those things weighed into it, as well,” Barker said. “We are really excited to have him on board.”

While teaching at Seymour High School, Darlage pursued his interest in administration and earned his master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Ball State University in 2013. But he had no immediate plans to step away from the classroom, he said.

“Administrators share a unique position with the hardworking and dedicated teachers who work closely with kids each day,” he said. “While teachers are certainly on the front lines, an administrator is in a position to make positive changes that can have a long-lasting impact, both on the kids and those teachers who have devoted their lives to this endeavor.”

Leaving his alma mater won’t be easy, but Darlage said he will always appreciate the opportunity he had to be a teacher there.

“Being a graduate of Seymour High School and an educator there for over a decade, it holds a special place in my heart, and I will never forget the experiences and friendships that I have built throughout the years,” he said. “My friends and colleagues there will be missed more than anything, but I wish them all of God’s blessings in the future.”

Darlage said he looks forward to working closely with Trinity students, teachers, staff, families and the community to continue the school’s tradition of academic success and in preparing Christian servants.

One of the biggest attractions to the job, he said, is knowing he can openly share and grow in his faith and help others do the same.

“As the application and interview process began, I soon realized that Trinity was a very special place,” he said. “Without question, God had a plan for me, and I am thrilled about it.”

Darlage said his leadership style is based on the values he holds important.

“Core values such as honesty, integrity and love for one another are crucial and result in a greater trust within any organization,” he said.

Having a shared purpose and vested confidence in teachers and staff encourages ownership and risk taking, which results in greater achievement, he said.

“Furthermore, being enthusiastic and having high expectations for students and staff is important,” he said.

Although he does not have the colloquy or Missouri Synod training most Lutheran educators have, Darlage, a 2006 graduate of Franklin College, said he is confident he understands the expectations of the school’s stakeholders and feels he can foster relationships needed to help the school succeed and grow.

Darlage will be taking an eight-month colloquy program to obtain the credential, Barker said.

“Having been in leadership positions on high school and college athletic teams, as well as being raised on our family farm with an ‘all-in-it-together’ atmosphere, I understand the necessity of teamwork and look forward to this opportunity,” Darlage said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Clayton Darlage” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Clayton Darlage

Age: 34

Hometown: Seymour

Occupation: New principal of Trinity Lutheran High School in Seymour

Education: 2002 graduate of Seymour High School; 2006 graduate of Franklin College; 2013 graduate of Ball State University with a master’s degree in leadership and administration

Experience: Lifetime member of St. John’s Lutheran Church Sauers, where he has served as the church grounds trustee. He also is a school board member and chairman at St. John’s Lutheran School and has taught at both the middle and high school levels, most recently at Seymour High School as a social studies teacher. He also has coached high school football and basketball.

Family: Wife, Brittany; daughters, Olivia and Charlotte, and expecting a third child in July

Favorite quotes: “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5; “Speak softly and carry a big stick. You will go far.” Theodore Roosevelt