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Fetching Features: Superintendent Mark Henson

Fetching Features: Superintendent Mark Henson

Have you ever ever had a objective that you simply wished to realize? One thing turned a driving pressure in your life because it took some extent of focus. It might have been that you simply needed to turn into one thing, perhaps a firefighter, an astronaut, or a soldier. You strove to comply with that dream, to develop nearer to that objective. The achievement was your motivation.

For some, a minimum of.

Many individuals will recall the almost 30 years Mark Henson spent because the Superintendent of Fannin County Faculties educating and influencing the youngsters of Fannin County. Many might consider this as a life nicely spent. Henson himself would agree, however it was not all the time so.

Rising up amongst a household of educators, Henson knew the life nicely earlier than he even graduated highschool. It was a part of the rationale he struggled so arduous towards it. Whereas it might look like 30 years within the profession isn’t the most effective evasion technique, Henson says it got here right down to logic as to why he lastly gave in.

After highschool commencement, he took his aim of avoidance as an alternative of accomplishment to coronary heart. “If you go back and look at my high school annual, my ambition was to do anything but teach school because everybody in my family at that time, were teachers,” says Henson as he explains attending the College of Georgia shortly earlier than shifting again to Blue ridge to work for the Blue Ridge Phone Firm.

Spending a few yr on the job after school didn’t work out. Henson doesn’t converse a lot on the subject as he says his father knew somebody working for Canada Dry in Athens. With a job opening obtainable and good pay to entice him, Henson made the change to working for the soda firm.

Shifting to Athens, Henson turned an RC/Canada Dry Salesperson over the encompassing 5 counties in Athens. A tough job that required many hours, Henson stated he’d be at work at 6 a.m. and acquired again house at eight:30 p.m. Although well-paying, the job fell flat for Henson as he got here to phrases with the lengthy hours and little time for himself. With two years underneath his belt on the firm, he started eager about Blue Ridge once more and his choices. As he says, “Teaching didn’t look so bad then.”

Regardless of the years in opposition, the trouble spent operating away from the ‘family business,’ Henson started considering forward at the remainder of his life. Already contemplating retirement on the time, it was this that finally turned his consideration again to educating. It wasn’t household, it wasn’t associates, however slightly, it was logic that drew him to the profession his life’s ambition prevented.

“I made pretty good money, there just wasn’t any retirement,” says Henson about his time at Canada Dry. As he appeared more durable at educating and commenced significantly contemplating the profession path, he says, “When you look at teachers, you’re never going to get rich being a teacher, but there’s a lot of benefits like retirement and health insurance that these other jobs just didn’t have.” He additionally notes he proved what he needed as he retired at 54-years-old.

After a lot thought, it started with a name to his father, Frank Henson. He advised his father he needed to return house and pursue educating. Although his father advised him to return residence and stick with them once more, Henson says it was the cash he had saved from his place at Canada Dry that allowed him to attend faculty for a yr earlier than being employed as a para-pro, a paraprofessional educator. It was a really busy time in his life as Henson states, “I would go up there and work until 11:30, and then I would work 12 to 4 at what used to be the A&P in McCaysville. I went to school at night…”

The subsequent few years proved to be hectic as he graduated and began educating professionally “with a job I wasn’t even certified for.” It was January of 1989 and the brand new faculty superintendent had been elected in November and as he took workplace in January he left a niche within the faculty. To fill the Assistant Principal place the, then, Superintendent had left, they promoted the instructor of the profession expertise class. With the emptiness within the classroom, Henson was appointed to step in to show the category. Half a yr was spent educating a profession path and talent class to ninth graders in what Henson refers to as a “foreign world.”

The primary full-time educating place he holds was maybe the one he was least certified for. Henson famous his nervousness taking the state-funded program. The earlier instructor had gone to the College of Georgia to obtain coaching to fill the place. Speaking with the earlier instructor concerning the class, Henson shared his reservations concerning the lack of coaching and certification. Receiving observe playing cards and steerage on how one can deal with it helped, however solely to date.

Henson recalled wanting on the playing cards and seeing ideas like, “Talk about work ethic for 20 minutes.” He was caught able and not using a agency basis. He spent the subsequent semester “winging it” and juggling the category with scholar placement in companies. Struggling via the daily on the time, he now seems again and says, “Apparently, I did pretty good at it.”

The fascinating half was that the promotions that led him into this place equally mirrored Henson’s personal path to Superintendent someday. An omen simply seemed over on the time, however manifestly apparent in hindsight. Although he wouldn’t take the direct path from Educating to Assistant Principal to Superintendent, they did set the milestones that he would hit on his approach.

He additionally noticed loads of doubt on his means, too. He by no means appeared on the Superintendent place as a aim, however even sustaining a educating place appeared bleak as he was referred to as into the workplace at some point and informed his profession class place was not being funded.

Considering he was dropping his job, he started contemplating different alternatives in addition to missed choices, he had simply turned down a place in Cartersville the place Stacy, his spouse, was educating. Worrying for no cause, Henson says he was racing by way of these ideas till they lastly advised him they have been shifting him to Morganton Elementary.

Taking over a Math and Social Research educating at Morganton Elementary, Henson discovered extra acquainted territory in these topics. But, having gotten used to the profession expertise, he says he nonetheless felt like he was beginning over once more. The years proved later to be fairly fortuitous as Henson says he nonetheless has individuals to today cease him and speak about their time studying from him as college students. Relating again to his personal faculty years, he admits he wasn’t the most effective scholar and he made his personal dangerous selections.

From conditions in band and sophistication alike, he notes that he labored arduous, often sitting in first and second chair as he performed the trombone, however he nonetheless discovered loads of issues to get into as he, by his personal confession, “made the drum major’s lives and stuff miserable.” Having fun with each alternative he might get to goof off, it turned a development all through his faculty profession.

But, in educating, he introduced these experiences and understanding to the youngsters as he tailor-made his courses annually. He shared one story of a woman that stopped him to talk for some time. Ultimately, she requested, “You don’t remember me, do you?”

Admitting that he didn’t, she replied, “Well, you really helped me a lot. I was ADD and you would let me sit at your desk.” He says she went on speaking about the best way he modified her life.

It appears virtually widespread now to affiliate academics with tales like these, altering individuals’s lives, but, it’s not typically you could assume a scholar inflicting hassle would grow to be that sort of instructor.

The trouble returned in a serious method as Henson was elected Train of the Yr at Morganton Elementary in solely his second yr. The award was a testomony to his efforts and success, but in addition proof of how a lot he had modified in his life.

“You get out of school and you work a couple of real hard jobs, you see there might be more to life than goofing off. That got me redirected and helped me get through college and get my teaching degree,” says Henson.

It was extra than simply awards, although. Morganton Elementary created a number of relationships for Henson that adopted him all through his profession and his life. spending 4 years at Morganton made it the longest place on the level, however it led to a lot extra. It led to 3 extra years of educating at East Fannin Elementary earlier than receiving a promotion to Assistant Principal at West Fannin Center Faculty.

Shifting from a place as a instructor to Assistant Principal isn’t only a promotion, it’s a main develop into faculty administration. Not coping with particular person courses of scholars, Henson says it turns into much more political as you get pressed between academics and fogeys. You stroll a tightrope as you need to help your academics in what they do, and also you need to take heed to involved mother and father and discover that center floor. “You have got to kind of be a buffer between them… You’re always walking a tightrope,” he stated.

He served as Assistant Principal to Principal David Crawford who served as Assistant Principal to his father, Frank Henson. Mentoring him in administration, he says David was a “laid back guy” that might nonetheless “let you have it” some days. It set him on a steep studying curve. Regardless of the jokes and tales, he led Henson on a fast path to his personal schooling. In a kind of ‘sink or swim’ mentality, Henson stated he was given much more authority than he anticipated, however he loved the job.

How a lot he loved it was a special level. Although Henson says he has by no means had a job in schooling he hated, he did say that his yr as Assistant Principal was his “least-favorite job.” Although stressing he has loved his whole profession, he famous that the stress and shock of transitioning from Educating to the Administration as a extra huge image job elements into the thought.

Even that wasn’t meant to final lengthy as he moved from Assistant Principal to Principal after only one yr.

Nearing the top of his first, and solely, yr as Assistant Principal, he was referred to as into the workplace once more. This time it was the varsity methods workplace as his Superintendent on the time, Morgan Arp, needed to talk with him. As he tells the story, “He stated, ‘I’m taking a look at restructuring the system somewhat bit on principals and directors. I’m not saying that is gonna occur, but when I made you Principal at East Fannin, would that be okay?’

I stated, ‘Sure, I’ve been there and I do know the individuals fantastic.’

He stated, ‘What about West Fannin?’

I stated, ‘Yeah, I’ve been there a yr, I can cope with that.’

He stated, ‘What about Blue Ridge Elementary?’

I stated, ‘Well, that’s the varsity I do know the least. I’m positive in the event you put me in there, I might. However the different two make me really feel somewhat extra snug.’

So the subsequent day I received a name, and I used to be principal for Blue Ridge Elementary.”

Although comical, Henson stated it truly labored out nice as he met two of his greatest colleagues there. Cynthia Panter later turned an Affiliate Superintendent and Karen Walton later turned his Assistant Superintendent. Each have been academics he met at Blue Ridge Elementary.

“Blue Ridge was really where I made a lot of later career relationships,” says Henson.

His time as Principal was additionally rather a lot simpler for him as he says after the yr at West Fannin he knew what he was doing and had extra confidence within the place. Having ‘matured’ into the job, he says the Principal place has extra latitude in selections. Having an awesome employees at each faculties made the job simpler, however the transition was easier additionally as a result of he felt he was all the time second-guessing himself as an assistant principal. His maturity additionally gave him new outlooks on the alternatives and selections made.

“I think a good administrator serves as a shield between the public and teachers who need someone in there to mediate,” he says. Molding issues into a bigger plan for the faculties and taking views from all those that take a stake of their schooling, “Everybody wants what’s best for the child.”

Surrounding himself with assistant principals and directors that have been element oriented to permit him to cope with individuals and give attention to the ‘big picture,’ two of his favourite elements of his profession as he says.

After three years at Blue Ridge Elementary, the Curriculum Director on the county workplace resigned. Making use of on a fluke intuition, he later received a name saying he received the place. He joined the employees as Okay-6 Director of Curriculum alongside Sandra Mercier as 7-12 Director of Curriculum.

Nevertheless, his time within the workplace noticed far more work as he hung out masking as Transportation Director and different fill-in duties. It wasn’t till 2003 when Sandra Mercier took the workplace of Superintendent, in accordance with Henson, that she named him as Assistant Superintendent and actually started his time within the Superintendent place.

He had by no means considered going for the place, making use of, and even considering of it. Henson stated he did need to be a Principal, however the county workplaces have been past his aspirations.

Largely totally different from transitioning from Instructor to Administrator, the transition into the Superintendent place was far simpler says Henson. You’re already coping with lots of the identical issues on a single faculty scale, however shifting to the Superintendent place crosses faculties and districts. He didn’t there’s much more PR concerned, however nothing to the acute change as he skilled his first yr in administration.

Turning into Superintendent in 2007, he says he targeted on opening the varsity system up and rising extra clear than it already was. Sharing info and talking straight about his emotions allowed a sure reference to individuals. It appears, in fact, that he by no means fairly outgrew a few of the goofiness of his childhood as he recollects joking with colleagues and employees.

Henson says he needed to have a great time within the workplace regardless of all the things they handled. He pushed the employees, however additionally they performed pranks on one another and shared moments like a faculty secretary embarrassing her daughter with a humorous image.

Noting one specific occasion, Stacy recollects a narrative with finance operating checks within the workplace. With one workplace member particularly who would all the time attempt to leap scare individuals operating the examine machine. Henson shortly opened the door and threw a handful of gummy bears at her. Sadly, a couple of have been sucked into the machine and ruined the verify run. It wasn’t an excellent day contemplating, but the employees laughed about it and shared within the comedy.

A needed a part of the job is what Henson calls it. The lightheartedness was key to sustaining his employees. “If you stay serious a hundred percent of the time, it’s going to kill you,” he says.

The place wasn’t simply laughter and jokes although, robust occasions got here a lot sufficient. Not all of them have been the anticipated points that you simply may anticipate. Except for the overall politics that face faculties every day in these occasions, Henson even handled demise threats in his place. Having let individuals go and handled others careers, he admits he had that one worker’s partner threated his life after a firing.

As he speaks about a number of the hardest moments like this, it’s arduous to learn how harrowing the occasion actually was. Henson says now that it’s not an enormous deal, it wasn’t the one menace he had. His spouse speaks a bit extra plainly as she confesses some days, she couldn’t inform if it was value it for him to be the Superintendent. But, even she says in hindsight that she is pleased with the honesty, integrity, and openness that permeated his ten years.

Moreover, coping with issues just like the shootings and points which have plagued faculties within the final decade, he provides, “It’s a more stressful job than when I started 30 years ago. It’s much more stressful. There are so many things that the state expects, that locals expect, that parents expect… I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like in another 30 years.”

Henson agreed that faculties have misplaced lots of the innocence they used to have inside the academics and employees. As these individuals proceed to rack their brains on following the mission to teach and hold youngsters protected, they take lots of the stress off the youngsters as they’re at college. He stated, “I don’t know if it’s spelled out, but I think if you’re a good teacher, you feel that inherently.”

It additionally branched over into insurance policies, with elevated give attention to testing and numbers, Henson stated the place acquired much more into the realm of politics as you cope with the state legislature and dealing with the fixed modifications that got here from the state provides one other merchandise to juggle.

As a superintendent, you don’t want state exams, as Henson says, to inform you how nicely a instructor teaches. “I can sit in a class for five minutes and tell you if a teacher can teach.”

Within the face of all the things, Henson stated he wouldn’t burn any bridges about returning to schooling, however he’s having fun with his retirement.

Henson has already reached the “what’s next” level in his profession as he retired final yr. One yr into retirement, he says he’s simply as busy as ever together with his place on the Board of Tax Assessors and placing a daughter via school on the College of Georgia. On prime of sustaining his personal tasks, he says he’s specializing in being a father or mother and husband and making up for time misplaced in his place as Superintendent.

As soon as he hit ten years within the workplace, Henson stated he felt like he had finished what he needed, it was time handy it over to another person for his or her impressions and interpretations. Although retiring from his profession, he didn’t fade into obscurity. With Stan Helton asking him to take a seat on the Board of Tax Assessors and others nonetheless in search of recommendation and counsel, he merely transitioned as soon as extra.