- [S106] The Mountain Press, 22 Jun 2011.
Ben Clabo stepping up at Pigeon Forge High School
by RACHEL OSBORN
Ben Clabo is taking over at principal at Pigeon Forge High School
This is the third in a five-part series on new principals at Sevier County High Schools.
PIGEON FORGE — To say that Ben Clabo, new principal of PFHS, is eager for the upcoming school year would be an understatement.
“PFHS is a great school,” Clabo said. “It’s exciting to be the boss and the one who’s in charge. But, it’s kind of scary as well. I’ve enjoyed being part of this process.”
Like good friend Tony Ogle (principal at Gatlinburg-Pittman High School), Clabo has always called Sevier County home. He attended Wearwood Elementary and Pi Beta Phi Elementary. Clabo graduated from GPHS in 1996.
“I’ve been fortunate to grow up in this community and attend this school system,” he said. “We have a great school system in Sevier County. I was proud to be a student in it, and now I’m proud to be an employee.”
Clabo graduated from Tennessee Tech in 2000 with a B.S. in Secondary Education. After graduation, he taught ninth-grade English at DeKalb County High School in Smithville, Tenn. for a year while waiting for his wife to obtain her marketing degree.
“When my wife graduated from Tennessee Tech, we moved back to Sevier County,” Clabo said. “Then I got a job at PFHS.”
At PFHS, Clabo taught ninth- and tenth-grade English classes for five years, from 2001 to 2006. He was also assistant principal at PFHS for four years and at GPHS for one.
In 2005 Clabo received his masters in Educational Administration and Supervision from UT. In 2010 Clabo received a PhD in Educational Administration, also from UT.
When he’s not busy with work or school activities, Clabo enjoys exercising, collecting comic books and reading.
“I like to read everything,” he said. “Mostly fiction—sci-fi, horror, fantasy—but anything I can get my hands on.”
Clabo also loves to camp and spend time with his family: wife, Stephani and daughters, Adeline, three; and Gwendolyn, eight weeks.
“It’s just me and the girls,” he said. “We like to camp at state and national parks. Gwendolyn is sleeping a lot better at night now. It will be our second camping trip taking (her). We’re excited. We do bike riding and hiking while camping. Adeline and I tear it up on the bike trails.”
Though he likes to have a good time, Clabo knows how to get down to business.
“Right now I’m working on a master schedule (for the fall),” he said, “the student handbook and the facilities. We’re getting everything ready for students.”
During his years as an assistant principal, Clabo developed several ideas about what it takes to effectively run a school and be a successful leader.
“Number one, you have to be visible,” he said. “You have to be in the school and be active. People have to see you. Leadership does not occur in an office.”
Next on Clabo’s list is approachability.
“(Students) have to feel that they can come and talk to you,” he said. “You have to listen to their problems. Even if the problem can’t be handled how they want, you explain why. You have to be there and willing to listen.”
Clabo also believes that a school needs a vision.
“Our job as a high school is to take the kids we get, wherever they are academically, and in four years make them as prepared for whatever they want to do after (graduation) as possible,” he said. “That’s my attitude. We’re here to help all students learn. PFHS is here to serve every kid that comes in our door. We’ll help them as much as we can.”
All of this is so important to Clabo, because he believes there is nothing more valuable than an education.
“Nothing is as important as a good education and a high school diploma,” he said. “It gives (students) skills to pursue whatever they want in their life. Education opens doors. It creates opportunities. Having an education, you make the choice (about your future) yourself. No one is making it for you.”
These plans will be carried out during next school year, when Clabo applies everything he’s learned over the years.
Clabo admits that he wouldn’t be where he is today without the help of Sevier County School System leaders and his colleagues.
“I’ve been lucky to work with effective principals, as a teacher and an assistant principal,” he said. “I’ve got big shoes to fill. I’m proud to be principal at PFHS. We’ve got a good staff here. Everyone in the building has welcomed me with open arms. They seem to be excited for me to be here. Teachers have come to talk to me and offer encouragement. I really appreciate it.”
- [S58] Marriage Certificate.
Groom's Name Bride's First Name Bride's Maiden Name County Date of Marriage File #
CLABO BENJAMIN T STEPHANI E HELTON SEVIER 07-15-2000 46863
- [S58] Marriage Certificate.
387131 BENJAMIN TYLER CLABO STEPHANI ERIN HELTON