Dr. Tia Meet & Greet
Friday, April 21, 2023
2:00 - 4:00 PM
Dr. Tia's Letter to the Polaris Community
April 12, 2023
Dear Polaris Community,
It is with immense honor that I write this letter to you as the new incoming principal of Polaris K-12. As many of you know, I have been an interconnected part of the Polaris community for nearly a decade; beginning as a teacher intern back in the 2013/14 school year followed by seven years as a classroom teacher in the elementary program. In recent years, I have had the distinct pleasure of serving the Polaris community in a variety of leadership positions, including as the Elementary Department Chair and the Administrative Designee for our K-12 community.
For those of you I have not yet had the privilege to meet, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dr. Tia Clay (formally Ruff) and the 2023/24 school year will mark my tenth year in education. I earned my Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership from George Fox University and both my Master’s in Teaching and Learning and my Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from the University of Alaska. While I have amassed several degrees in my personal commitment to lifelong learning, it is my time spent within our Polaris community that has meant more to me than any degree ever could. From the meaningful connections I have built with my students and their families, to the robust work I have done in collaboration with my colleagues, Polaris has provided a platform for me to truly embrace my philosophy of education, which, in short, is that every child has the capacity to succeed if only provided with the right tools and resources that will allow them to unlock their full potential.
My passion and commitment to education is only rivaled by one thing; the love I have for my daughter and family, which is the sole reason behind my absence as a Polaris staff member this school year. Last summer, my husband, daughter, and I relocated to Pennsylvania to surround ourselves with my family; however, we quickly realized our home is in Alaska. In my speedy return to our beautiful state, the eagerness to re-engage with my Polaris community found me back in our building the day after we landed. I have had the fortunate opportunity to work in the capacity of a consultant for Polaris since January; working with a group of K-12 staff members during their professional conversations regarding project-based learning as well as with the elementary staff to revitalize our elementary ELA program for the upcoming school year. To say that I am eager and excited to fully re-integrate back into the Polaris community is an immense understatement– to do so in the capacity of your principal is a tremendous honor and one that I will not take lightly.
To the Polaris staff, I want you to know that you have my unwavering support. Your professionalism, compassion, and commitment to our students and their families is unmatched. Together, I hope to capitalize on our program's strengths while recognizing our areas of necessary growth so we can continue to evolve our program in a way that will continue to provide our students with the tools they need for success in our rapidly changing world.
To the Polaris families, I want you to know that you are vital and valued members of our school community. As your child's biggest advocate, I can assure you that your role in our community isof utmost importance. Together, we can bridge the gap between home and school to ensure your child succeeds in and out of our school building.
To the Polaris students, I want you to know that your voice matters. The individual ideas and opinions you bring with you into our community help establish a strong foundation in which our program is built. Never be afraid to take the initiative in your own learning– you are the designers of your own education; we are simply here to help you realize your full potential.
In closing, I want to emphasize that the role of principal can not be done successfully in isolation. Instead, as a collaborative community, we can ensure that the program that we all know and love continues to promote success for all.
I look very forward to continuing this journey with you. With sincere gratitude and appreciation,
Dr. Tia Clay, Ed.D.
About Dr. Tia Clay, Ed.D.
I was born and raised in Emmaus, Pennsylvania and graduated from Emmaus High School in May of 2010. From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be an educator. I would come home from elementary school on a daily basis and 'play school' in the attic of my house that I fully converted into my own classroom. Now, as an experienced educator, I can say with confidence that the little girl who would teach a classroom full of imaginary students knew what she was destined for.
After graduating high school, I moved myself to Anchorage, Alaska to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage and procure a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. Granted, this was a long way to travel to earn a degree I could have obtained at a much more local university; however, adventure called, and I answered, all while maintaining that natural drive to become a teacher.
I have now been an educator in the Anchorage School District for eight years and have spent the last year as an Administrator and Educational Consultant. Over my career, I have continued to pursue higher levels of education, not just for myself, but for my students. I earned a Master's Degree in Teaching and Learning in 2018 and immediately pursued a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership that was conferred in May 2021.
Throughout my pursuit of lifelong learning, as well as out of necessity based on the non-traditional classroom environments I was leading, I have been driven to the art of curriculum development and instructional design.
My entire career as an educator has been teaching students in multi-age class configurations. To best serve the students in my classroom, I was unable to use a standard curriculum to fidelity, knowing that the curricula program handed to me did not have my specific students in mind when it was created, nor did it account for teaching multiple grade levels simultaneously. Instead, I mastered the art of utilizing the curricula programs adopted in a particular school or district, along with my deep understanding of the Common Core State Standards, as a foundation for the instructional curriculum I planned and facilitated in my classroom community. I built upon this foundation by blending in culturally relevant, community-based, environmentally-focused, and project-based materials in order to best serve the diverse community of learners in my classroom each year.
For the past six years, I have written project-based, place-based, and game-based curriculum resources that have been shared not only across my school, and school district but also around the world. Additionally, I have created several curricula and standard alignment documents that have supported teachers in their mission to better serve the individual students in their classroom environments.
This bridge into more leadership-type roles has grown exponentially over the years. In the Polaris context alone, I have served not only as a 4/5 teacher, but also as the Elementary Department Chair, Administrative Designee, Teacher-in-Charge, 504 Coordinator, and New Student Liaison. As mentioned, this past year was spent in two different capacities-- firstly, as an Assistant Principal at a K-12 Charter school in Pennsylvania, and the other as an Educational Consultant in my speedy return to Alaska.
My passion for education and helping all students succeed will never dwindle; instead, I hope to continue my pursuits in serving all students in becoming their best selves (academically, socially, and behaviorally) by stepping into a position within the field of education that will allow me to support, inspire, and empower the teachers that serve our next generation every day.