Advocating for students as the school attendance officer 

Meet Pamela Clark, 2023 Camden County ESP of the Year 

Pamela Clark has held many educational support professional positions in New Jersey’s public schools. She’s been an instructional assistant, secretary, community school coordinator, and paraprofessional. Now she is an attendance officer. Working in each of these positions has given her insight into the work the entire school team does—and how we all work together to make schools work for students and families.  

Clark began her career in public education as an instructional assistant. A young mother at the time, she wanted to work in the public schools. Her mother was a teacher for 27 years who encouraged her to pursue education.  

Since 2018, she has been a school attendance officer, and she understands the challenges students and families are facing.  

“We had families who lost their homes during COVID,” Clark recalls. “Some of the families struggled with the technology. They really suffered. 

“Post-pandemic, we were seeing a lot of students not coming to schools,” Clark adds. “I make phone calls and I show up on their doorsteps, delivering letters at 10 days. I want them to know that I’m here to advocate for their child, and for them. Not every case needs to be referred to truancy court. Every case is handled differently. Sometimes, that means I’m advocating on the students’ behalf by speaking with the with the principals, other school administrators and teachers or conducting parent/teacher conferences to get things resolved. Parents need to see that all the stakeholders care about their child and that we all want a better quality of life for them.” 

Pursuing a career in education is not without its bumps. Twice, Clark has been laid off. In 2019-20, the district laid off all but two attendance officers. While some have been recalled, it’s still challenging. But she loves the work that she does. 

“I’m a big softie.” Clark says. “I can relate to the parents and the struggle to get everything they—and their students—need as I was a single parent myself. I care a lot, and I don’t like to see people hurt. I work with the students to help them stay in school and get their diplomas,” Clark says.  

A graduate of Camden’s public schools, Clark earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. She uses her degrees now as the treasurer of the Camden Education Association. 

In addition, Clark has been on the negotiations team, serves as the ESP chairperson for the city of Camden and Camden County, and is a member of the NJEA’s PAC Operating Committee representing ESPs in South Jersey. She also serves members on the NJEA ESP Committee.  

Clark was honored by being named the 2023 Camden County ESP of the Year.  

“I felt valued when I heard that I have been named the Camden County ESP of the Year,” Clark says. “I didn’t think that people recognized me standing up for them. I try to stay humble and never forget from whence I came.”  

Clark’s honors continue to grow. At the 2024 NJEA ESP Conference, Clark received the ESP Career Achievement Award. This award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to NJEA and its members and a high level of professional excellence. 

Clark is the proud mother of a daughter, Janea, and two grandsons, Deion and Devon, who can be seen with their “Mai Mai” at union functions