Emily Jablonka has spent the past 12 years as a teacher and administrator at a middle school and she is excited to continue working with that age group as principal of New Albany Middle School.
"I love middle school kids," she said. "They make me laugh; they make me smile. I just adore this age."
Jablonka most recently was principal of Jackson Middle School in the South-Western City School District in Grove City. She was hired in February to take the New Albany Middle School position this summer.
At Jackson Middle School, she taught eighth-grade language arts for four years, worked as an assistant principal for five years and as a principal for three.
She also taught fifth grade for four years in the South-Western district.
She said she saw the posting for the New Albany position and considered it, but she was happy at Jackson Middle School and initially did not apply.
She ended up applying for the job after one of her mentors sent her the posting and told her the job was "110-percent you."
New Albany-Plain Local officials chose her from among four candidates who interviewed for the position.
Jablonka replaces Kip Greenhill, who served as interim principal for two years.
After researching New Albany-Plain Local, its mission and vision and Superintendent April Domine's work, Jablonka said, she is "really excited about the possibilities here, for the teachers, for the kids and for the community."
Jablonka said she knows middle school is a challenging time for children but she understands them and wants to find ways to make students feel at home and that they have a purpose being at New Albany Middle School.
She said New Albany provides many different opportunities for students to feel included, from sports, performing and visual arts and such after-school programs as Science Olympiad and Math Counts.
"You don't find a variety of opportunities at the middle school level that often," she said.
Jablonka said she also is interested in teaching academies, which teams of New Albany teachers and students researched in the 2013-14 school year.
The four teams studied academies that would involve the arts; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); international education; and the power each student has to change the world. All four would use the same curriculum taught in regular classrooms but the teaching methods would be modified to include the focus of each academy.
Jablonka said she has some ideas she would like to introduce to the district, but she said the district already has many changes occurring.
District officials plan to open 12 classrooms in the new 1-8 building the first day of school Aug. 25. The rest of the building is expected to open in January.
Jablonka said she would have to wait and see which teachers would be interested in moving into the new building in January before determining how that would affect the structure of New Albany Middle School.
A program she eventually wants to introduce at New Albany Middle School is Rachel's Challenge, named for Rachel Joy Scott, who was killed in the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo., in 1999.
Jablonka said the challenge to students is to be kind to one another.
She said, if implemented at the middle school, the challenge could be passed on to elementary students through middle school mentors.
"It's a very powerful and moving message," she said.
District spokesman Patrick Gallaway said the program could work well with the district's goal of an inclusive culture and the annual celebration of Peace Week, which was established at the high school in response to the Columbine shootings.
Jablonka's contract was approved by the New Albany-Plain Local school board Feb. 24. She will be paid $101,000 per year, "with additional days per diem as available," and the district will pay about $37,000 for her benefits, according to district officials.
Her contract runs through runs July 31, 2016.
Jablonka said her husband, Gordon Erik Jablonka, also has been hired by the district as a high school intervention specialist who will work with special needs students. He will earn $46,865 annually, with the district paying about $13,400 for his benefits, according to district officials.