Karen Clarke: Spirit of Gainesville nominee

Published: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 11:47 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 11:47 a.m.

My family has had the good fortune of becoming friends with Karen Clarke and her family through Buchholz High School baseball. She is a lifelong educator who is passionate about the advancement of our youth. I have had the opportunity to personally witness Karen’s passion for our city, our schools and our kids. Karen understands and promotes the role of the family in our education system, has a thorough knowledge and understanding of the curriculum and standards of the Alachua County Public Schools, has an unbelievable work ethic, and boundless energy to go with it all. Karen does not have an off switch; it is all about the kids, all the time.


Karen Clarke


Category: Education

About Karen Clarke

Occupation: Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, ACSB

Years in Gainesville: 44

Spouse: Kevin

Children: Weston, Will and Wyatt

Karen has been involved with academics in Alachua County all of her life as she attended elementary school, middle school, and high school here in Gainesville. She is a graduate of Gainesville High School and has received her bachelors and master’s degree from the University of Florida.

To begin her career as an educator she began teaching at Newberry High/Middle School. She moved to Oak View Middle school where she taught and served as Dean. She was then promoted to Assistant Principal and then to Principal at Oak View. She was then appointed to serve as Director of Secondary Education and is now the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum for Alachua County Schools.

Throughout her working life, she has championed the students that she came in contact with. She has led fundraising, private and otherwise; to help underprivileged children obtain sports equipment and other tools to make their educational experience as successful as possible. She serves as a mentor in both formal and informal settings for men and women who are looking to improve themselves in order to serve the children of Alachua County. She can always be counted on to provide an ear for listening, a sounding board for the best decision to make, or a shoulder to cry on. In all circumstances, Karen is a respected and loyal friend, confidant, peer, and mover and shaker, all while taking care of her beautiful family.

Unfortunately, over the past year Karen has had to face, and beat, a severe medical condition. It was at this time that Karen’s effect on hundreds of people from around Gainesville and all over the country showed itself. Karen was bombarded with offers of help, thoughts and prayers, and a multitude of meals for her family when the condition was diagnosed. Probably the most amazing thing was that even with treatments of her condition that would cripple many people, Karen arraigned her treatments and the resulting disabling effects around her schedule so that she could continue to help her peers, friends, and the programs she so ably supports. If you didn’t know what she was going through, you might never know the pain and suffering she was enduring. She always kept her smile on and continued to say, “Yes” to all requests. Thankfully, through her faith, inner-strength, positive outlook, and support from her friends and family, Karen has seen successful results in her fight against her condition. Those that know her have no doubt that the cancer had picked the wrong person this time.

Many times in her position, the effects she has on the thousands of children in Alachua County go unnoticed, or under-appreciated. Every day she champions the credo of the school system which is, “We are committed to the success of EVERY Student!”

Karen also gives freely of her personal time. Among her credits toward community service, she is involved in Take Stock in Children, Fight Cancer, and volunteering with the Buchholz High School baseball boosters. Although she may not be directly and notably involved in many non-profit organizations, she is always helping in her own way, behind-the-scenes, to help ensure the success of anyone who asks for her help. If there was/is ever anything to do, at any time, Karen is/was there. This, I believe, is another extension of her passion for our kids. I don’t believe we could have a nominee who better exemplifies the” Spirit of Gainesville”.

Nominated by Patrick McKivigan

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