The first day of school is going to look a little different for Rebekah Landez this year. For the past seven years, she has entered Harrison Parkway Elementary (HPE) every morning as the assistant principal, working alongside former principal Andrea Burke. Last spring, Andrea announced her retirement, and after a lengthy process full of interviews, anticipation, and excitement, on June 14, Rebekah was named the next principal of HPE.  

Rebekah Landez standing at her desk

Preparing to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a teacher, Rebekah went to Ball State and completed her undergrad in elementary education. Later, she went back to school at Butler, where she went through the Experiential Program for Preparing School Principals (EPPSP) and earned her master’s degree in education administration leadership.  

She began her career by teaching first and second grade in Warren Township, then working in Washington Township as an elementary teacher and reading specialist, and after taking time off to raise her family, taught third and fourth grade in the HSE school district at Sand Creek Elementary. She then transitioned into the role of instructional coach, working in Noblesville before returning to HSE and continuing her work as an instructional coach at Harrison Parkway Elementary and Thorpe Creek Elementary for a year.  

Becoming an instructional coach was a pivotal moment in Rebekah’s career. “I decided that I wanted to go into administration as I transitioned into my role as an instructional coach. The instructional coaching role truly helps to support teachers with curriculum and instruction, as they do the important work of supporting kids. I love being able to support teachers, as well as kids and families. Becoming an administrator allowed me opportunities to build meaningful relationships not only with kids and staff, but also the entire community.” 

That desire was fulfilled when a referendum was passed where elementary schools received assistant principals, and she became the first assistant principal at HPE and remained in that position for the last seven years. 

Kids play in the fire hose

A familiar face around Harrison Parkway, and excited to continue her journey with the community, Rebekah said, “We have a wonderful community, it’s very collaborative, and we have built and will continue to build a lot of trust. As the only neighborhood school in Hamilton Southeastern’s district, we’re unique, and we’re just going to continue the momentum Harrison Parkway has so the work that we do can continue and grow.” 

Rebekah has had many positive comments from the community and families of Harrison Parkway with the announcement of her principalship and is excited to hit the ground running. She is supported by a team of teachers who help her do the big work to further her dreams for the school. 

She said, “All of our staff is super involved, but there’s a guiding coalition of about 12 staff members, and we’re really going to take Harrison Parkway to the next level, focusing in on academic excellence and our whole child approach.” 

One of the things Rebekah is excited to work on as principal is taking more learning outdoors. Having already put some of this in motion, she recalls, “Two years ago, a team, including myself, wrote a grant for an outdoor learning lab, and we partnered with HSE High School and Ed Martin Toyota to build an outdoor readers theater stage.  We’ve got a book walk, mud kitchen, garden areas, as well as sensory items for all students to enjoy.  I’m looking forward to building a curriculum to support learning outdoors, which is awesome for all kids.” 

Harrison Parkway Elementary from the outside

Rebekah also plans to incorporate family into the classroom, in more ways than one. With the goal of building a more collaborative partnership with families, she plans to invite parents in for parent panels and family book studies. Community involvement will be a priority.

Additionally, she talked about a new initiative to create families within the building– “It’s like a mentorship program for our kids. Each child and staff member will be a part of a family, different from the classroom community, and it’ll be cross-grade level. They’ll have a different place where they belong, where there will be multiple adults to support them in whatever their needs are, whether it be academic, social, emotional, or mental health; there will be a team to support all kids.” 

It’s evident that Rebekah is passionate not only about providing a high-quality education for her students, but also about the development and well-being of the kids themselves. “We teach five to ten-year-old’s and know that our kids are going to leave us being readers, writers and mathematicians, so it’s really our biggest job to create good, kind human beings.”  

If you’d like to learn more about HSE, network with other families, and get excited about the upcoming school year, join HSE Schools for Before the Bell, a districtwide back-to-school celebration. This event will be held at the Nickel Plate District Amphitheater on August 3 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.