New Principal Profile: Shayna Clinkscales, Riverside ES


With the retirement of Principal Cynthia Winter in July, Riverside Elementary was in need of a new principal for their Mableton school. They found just the right person a mere six miles north in nearby Smyrna at Nickajack Elementary, where Shayna Clinkscales was serving as an Assistant Principal. Principal Clinkscales will begin her new role at Riverside on July 1, 2023.

“Riverside is a great place for children to learn and is filled with staff who care and believe in the accomplishments of the students,” said Principal Clinkscales about her new school. “I believe my previous experiences and genuine passion will contribute greatly to the school’s continued success.”

An education veteran with 20 years of experience, Principal Clinkscales has been a part of Cobb Schools since 2014, when she joined the staff at Campbell Middle School. She has been at Nickajack since 2020 and can’t wait to get started at Riverside.

“The school community will see a leader who puts children first and is fully committed to student achievement. It is important to me to create strong and positive relationships with our students, faculty and staff, and all stakeholders,” Principal Clinkscales said.

In the following Q&A, Principal Clinkscales elaborates on her leadership philosophy and goals for Riverside.

Question: Why are you excited about joining the Riverside Elementary School community? 

Answer: I am beyond excited because it is an honor to work with a team of educators and stakeholders who believe in the success of our students. It is important to me to work collaboratively with the community to foster a learning environment where students are loved, feel safe, and thrive as academic citizens. 

Q: What impresses you most about the Riverside ES students, and what can the school community expect to see under your leadership? 

A: Although I have not had the opportunity to meet everyone, I am very impressed by the dedicated staff and hardworking students! Faculty and staff at Riverside work well together to build a positive learning environment where students can thrive. This is one of my core values, so I am very excited to continue this culture of inclusiveness and mutual respect for all. I look forward to working with the students of Riverside and leading them toward continued academic success. They will feel valued every day in a place where they can learn and grow. I like to be involved and visible in my school community! 

Q: What does student success look like to you? 

A: Student success is identifiable when students are empowered to set and achieve goals. My philosophy is that growth equals success. When students can show growth academically and emotionally, they are prepared to succeed in life. I look forward to working with our staff to develop our students as self-motivated learners committed to success.

Q: What do you like most about being an educator/principal, and what is your favorite memory as an educator? 

A: What I love most about being an educator is having the opportunity to impact my students and the community positively. It brings me joy to know that I can foster an environment that allows students to feel safe, loved, and important while learning and growing each day. Knowing that families trust us to partner with them to educate their children is a true honor.

It is so hard to pinpoint just one favorite memory, as I have so many, but one that does stand out happened during my very first year of teaching. I was teaching first grade, and I had a student who struggled with phonics and reading. He would often get “sick” as soon as it was time to start our reading lesson each day and withdraw from activities. As the year went on and I was able to build a relationship with my students, he started choosing to participate more and more. His growth amazed me as he actually wanted to learn. At the end of the year, he earned the Most Improved Award, and his mother approached me after the awards program. She had tears in her eyes and said to me, “Thank you for believing in my boy.” From that moment on, I understood just how much it means to believe in our students. I further committed myself to believing in achievement for all students, even through challenges.   

Q: Outside school, where might students, parents, or staff members run into you? 

A: Outside school, you will find me enjoying time with my family. My husband and I have an active and amazing toddler who keeps us on our toes. As a family, we enjoy traveling, trying new restaurants, and providing fun new experiences for our son. I personally am a football fanatic, so it is almost a guarantee you will find me enjoying a few games during football season!

Congratulations and welcome to Riverside, Principal Clinkscales! Your experience, passion, and love for children are evident, and we are excited for you and what lies ahead for the entire Riverside community.