By CHRISTIANA NIELSON
He has been an Eagle Scout, a football player, a triathlon runner, a math teacher and an assistant principal.
Now he will take on a whole new role as principal of Rock Bridge High School.
Mark Maus, current assistant principal at Oak Park High School in Kansas City, will begin his new position in Columbia on July 1.
Continue reading for a Q-and-A with the future principal.
Q. What is your education background?
A. • Bachelor’s in education with minors in math and science from Northwest Missouri State University
• Master’s in education leadership at Northwest Missouri State
• In the process of completing a specialist degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in education administration
• Enrolled in the doctoral program at UMKC in urban leadership with an anticipated graduation date of summer 2012
Q. What has been your professional experience at Oak Park High School?
A. I have been at Oak Park for nine years. I was a math teacher, had football and track coaching positions, and then was achievement coordinator part time and math teacher part time. I was then assistant principal for three years.
Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?
A. Being an Eagle Scout in high school. I started as a Tiger Cub before I was in kindergarten and went through the entire process with friends. I am also involved in the Leadership Institute for the North Kansas City School District and was voted by my peers to receive the Dr. Vicki L. Baker Leadership Institute Award.
Q. Who/what is the biggest influence in your life?
A. There’s a lot of them, but probably my parents. Both my parents have been very positive and absolutely supportive throughout my life.
Q. Tell me about your family.
A. My wife, Katie, has been a special education teacher for nine years. It will be our eighth wedding anniversary this summer. I have two girls: Hadlie is 3 1/2 and Ava is 10 months.
Q. What were you involved in when you were in high school and college?
A. In high school, I played three sports: football, basketball and track, all four years. I was also in the show choir all four years, and I was in the musical starting in seventh grade, though I am not a good singer. I was also involved in National Honor Society. It was a small town – Smithville, Mo. – so I could do a lot of things. I played football in college and was one of two M-Club delegates, the lettermen’s club, for my junior and senior years.
Q. What are some of your interests and hobbies?
A. Spending time with my family. I also run triathlons because I realized I needed to lose some weight after playing football; this was better than just lifting weights. I enjoy playing golf and I love cooking.
Q. Why did you decide to apply to be the new principal of Rock Bridge?
A. I was looking for an opportunity to be a principal, and I looked throughout the entire state. I talked to some people I knew in Columbia about Rock Bridge. I really believe in Rock Bridge’s “freedom with responsibility,” and I believe that students will meet the expectations you have for them.
Q. How much did you know about the school before applying?
A. I tried to get as much information as I could – those conversations with people in Columbia were very helpful, and I also talked to Dr. Laffey (Columbia Public Schools assistant superintendent for human resources). I also looked at the DESE Web site (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) and the school’s Web site.
Q. When did you find out that you were selected to be principal?
A. They (Columbia schools administrators) called me on Feb. 26.
Q. How do you think your experiences will help you as principal?
A. Oak Park and Rock Bridge have very similarly sized school districts; North Kansas City has about 18,000 students and Columbia has about 17,000, and both have block scheduling, so they are similar. I think I fit the needs at Rock Bridge, and I don’t think things need to change greatly. This school has had fantastic results that I want to continue.
Q. What do you appreciate most about Rock Bridge?
A. The trust placed in the students, the collaborative culture and the student-centered decision making.
Q. I know you’ve been spending time getting to know Kathy Ritter, the current principal. After these conversations, what would you identify as the most important goal for the school?
A. Putting students first. Students are trusted to make good decisions.
Q. What, if anything, are you looking to improve at the school?
A. I want to continue to raise scores and ensure that all students walk across the stage with a plan for the coming years in their lives. That doesn’t mean that plan can’t change, though.
Q. What do you hope to learn most by being principal?
A. I want a feeling of success for every student, so learning how to meet each student’s needs is most important.
Q. What do you hope to teach most by being principal?
A. I want to make sure we all know that kids are valued – that culture is already here and I want to continue it.
Q. What are you doing now to prepare for the change?
A. I came down this week (during Oak Park’s spring break) to meet with students and teachers to start building relationships and getting into classrooms. I’m seeing teachers do great work.
Q. What is the one thing you would like people to know about you?
A. Some kids are curious if we will get rid of AUT, or unassigned time, when they have free time on their own – I don’t plan on touching that. I don’t believe in change for change’s sake.