Tearsa Schable, Principal at Lincoln Elementary School in La Porte, has found life to be full of happy accidents.
Schable’s first happy accident? Pursuing elementary education as a career.
“I come from a family of teachers. My mom went back to school later in life to become a teacher. I have aunts and uncles that are teachers and while I didn’t set out to be a teacher at first, I tried a couple of different things but just couldn’t find something that fit,” she said. “When I took an Elementary Education class in college though, I found my fit. It fit my values, I knew I always wanted to be a mom and the calendar would fit that as well. It was a happy accident that this wound up being my career.”
Schable earned her bachelor’s in elementary education at Indiana State University and her master’s in elementary education from Indiana University South Bend. During that time, she found herself back in the city where she was born and raised.
“La Porte is really home. It’s a unique town and it’s so beautiful. I think it’s underappreciated and after going away to college and coming back, it felt like the right thing to stay. It’s where all of my family is and it’s just a nice place to live,” she said.
Even becoming a principal was a bit of a happy accident. As a college student, Schable never imagined she would join a sorority. She not only joined—she took on leadership roles, including president.
“It’s funny because I remember very vividly being in my very first interview at Westville Elementary School and the superintendent asked me where I saw myself in five years and then in 10 years. I remember saying that in 10 years I saw myself being in administration,” she said. “In college, all of those leadership opportunities let me know how important it is to support people.”
For several years Schable taught many different grade levels throughout several different schools. This all provided her with a unique understanding of just what it takes to lead a school.
“Everyone comes to a problem or situation with so many different perspectives and I feel like I’ve worked really hard to bring those different perspectives to light so that even if you don’t agree with the other person, you can at least see where they’re coming from and solve the issue in a respectful way,” Schablesaid. “I really do believe that everybody is trying to do their best at all times, and we all have moments that aren’t our proudest moments, but I think we all set out with the best intentions.”
It’s also about staying connected with students and staff at a higher level than just every-day business.
“If you can see what’s going on in someone’s home life or at work, whatever the case may be, I feel like you can find the good in the person,” Schable said. “That’s really what I wanted to do for the teachers and also the students and parents.”
Schable has been at Lincoln Elementary for two years.
“I’ve always wanted to serve people and that’s why I feel like Lincoln Elementary has been such a good fit for me,” she said. “We have such an awesome group of teachers who really take into consideration the needs of our school. It’s just this nice school where the teachers know the families and the families appreciate being a part of this small, special community.”
Serving has been part of Schable’s life for many years, whether it was serving with her church or the local community.
“It’s something that’s just grown over time. In college we did a lot of service projects at the sorority and then when I came home, I got involved with my church by serving as a youth leader with my husband and leading mission trips for the youth. We also do a lot of different service projects with my church,” Schable said.
Schable serves with the La Porte Educational Development Foundation.
“They do a lot to provide grants for teachers and scholarships for high school seniors who want to become teachers. We work hard to do a lot of things to get the word out about the good things that are going on in the La Porte Schools,” Schable said.
But most importantly, Schable is here for students.
“No matter where I am, I just want to serve the kids and continue to motivate them and help have their basic needs met,” she said.
“There’s a quote that says, ‘The definition of success is when you can do things for others and not expect anything in return.’ Kids are the best example of this. They don’t expect it and they’re just so happy to have your attention and that’s so rewarding,” she added.
When Schable isn’t hard at work supporting her students and La Porte educators, she enjoys baking, reading, and taking the family’s golden-doodle, Gus, on walks. With two high school golfers in the family, she spends a lot of time on the links supporting them. Or, you may just find her strolling through the Art Institute in Chicago, one of her favorite places.
“I love to be surrounded by beauty and history, it’s just really nice,” she said.
While many happy accidents may have led Schable to where she is now, her mission has stayed the same: serve with understanding.