New East Clayton Elementary Principal Values Community Engagement

Lauren Sabo, East Clayton Elementary’s new principal, stands in front of the school. Sabo values community engagement and plans to continue to build that community within and around East Clayton Elementary.

By Robin Koppen
JCPS Communication Specialist

A 22-year veteran with Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS),  Lauren Sabo has been recognized for just about everything in the world of education. Now she is being recognized as the newest principal of East Clayton Elementary.

In 2000, Sabo moved from a small mining town outside of Pittsburgh for her very first teaching job with JCPS, and she’s been here ever since. She began her JCPS career as a fourth grade teacher at Glendale-Kenly Elementary, where she taught for 9 years. 

From there, she went to Clayton Middle and taught sixth grade math and science for four years. Sabo then became an instructional coach at Clayton Middle, where she developed her love of curriculum and instruction. 

It was during that time, Sabo decided she wanted to have a broader impact.  “I knew I needed to have a seat at the table where those big decisions were being made,” she said. To have that impact, she needed more schooling so she began her studies in administration.

After getting her degree, Sabo went to Selma Middle as the assistant principal where she has been for the last four years. She is thankful for her time there. “I learned a lot,” she commented. “I learned how to implement change. I’m very lucky to be able to bring that to East Clayton Elementary.”

Sabo has sat at several tables where big decisions were discussed during her career with JCPS. She received the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) Kay Trull Outstanding Professional Educator Award. 

She earned a Middle Childhood Generalist certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) and served as the JCPS liaison for NBPTS. 

On top of that, Sabo was nominated for School Counselor/Student Advocate Employee of the Year in 2018.

One would think that with all of the accolades she has received that Sabo would have been an outstanding student right from the beginning. That is not the case. 

Truthfully, she didn’t even have a favorite subject in school. “When I was in school I never had that level of learning,” she recalled. She is obligated to say that Spanish was her favorite subject because her mom was her teacher.

Then Sabo had that teacher. Everyone has one teacher who has had a major impact on them, and hers was a history teacher who was a fantastic storyteller. That is when Sabo recognized her learning style.  “I have to have learning come alive to be able to engage,” she said. 

She has modeled her own career after that learning style. “That is what drove me to be an educator,” Sabo remarked. It’s how she wants her students in the classroom and the entire school to receive instruction. 

Sabo knows the best vehicle for connecting with students is her ears. She really gets to know them by listening to them and finding out what they want to achieve. “From there you have a springboard for how to connect and engage within a lesson,” she said.

On her days off, this mom of two can be found at home with her 9-year-old and 13-year-old swimming or doing home projects. 

Not surprising, Sabo’s favorite place on Earth is around the table with her family. Coming from an Italian family,  food is the center of every event, every holiday, every birthday, so that is where the most memorable moments are made for her.

When she thinks of a hero, Sabo said she always thinks of strong women, and at the top of the list is her grandmother.  “Despite all of the obstacles life threw at her, she remained tenacious,” Sabo remarked.  “She managed to raise kids and still do what she wanted to do in life without ever losing that positive spirit.”

Sabo brings with her a combination of 22 years in education plus a positive attitude to her new role at East Clayton Elementary. Sabo’s vision is clear and concise; to continue building the community within and around the school. “We value that sense of community even though we are the fastest growing school district in the state,” Sabo said.  “I can feel the history here and the connection to the community.”

She and her staff are focused on how to build academics and instruction at East Clayton to make it the top school in the district.

Education is important to Sabo because she knows it is more than just ABCs and 123s. It is one of the largest pieces of students learning how to interact with others in the world, and how to set goals for themselves. “We are setting the stage for those characteristics and traits that will make them successful citizens of this world,” she exclaimed.

Although Sabo deals with a young population that may have no idea what they want to do yet when they grow up, she understands the importance of getting them to love school and to love learning at an early age. 

She stays motivated by going into the classrooms. Anytime Sabo is having a bad day, she goes into a classroom, sees the kids, and sees the magic that is happening between students and teachers. “It energizes me and motivates me to keep going,” she said.

Also, Sabo’s goal is that every student, staff member, and family feels welcomed and engaged. “We’re all here for the right reasons,” she remarked.  “You’re going to feel that in the air when you walk through the doors.”


  1. Hmm, several articles about principals written by a jcps employee. Not that the people aren’t deserving, but it almost seems as if they are trying to redirect attention of the school system. Just making an observation

  2. As you read my comment, I stated that the individuals highlighted are quite worthy, however, to allow a spokesperson from the school system to write articles is somewhat disingenuous and noteworthy. Not trying to be a dark cloud, but that would be like letting Jeffrey Epstein publicist write about his travel agency. Sheesh. Some of you need to relax.

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