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Stuck in the Middle: “Once a Hawk, Always a Hawk!”

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Stuck in the Middle: “Once a Hawk, Always a Hawk!”
by Kal Russell - Tuesday, 19 June 2018, 1:41 PM

Stuck in the Middle: “Once a Hawk, Always a Hawk!”  

Six years ago, we moved into the new North Saanich Middle School building.  There was a buzz around the community about the school and I personally was very excited about being the Principal.  I had heard wonderful things about the NSMS staff, and I already knew we lived in a great community with amazing kids.  I was positive that we had everything to make this a special school.  The only thing I did not know at that time was who would be our Vice-Principal.  

Luckily for me and our school, Mr. Mark was hired to fill that position.  He immediately became a key member of our team.  Over the past six years, he has been instrumental in helping us shape the culture of North Saanich Middle School.  

Mr. Mark has many qualities that make him a strong educational leader.  He is organized, strategic, hard-working, and student-focused. However, he has one attribute that stands out.  He connects well with people.  

Mr. Mark has created strong connections with our parents, staff and school community, and we will all miss him, but his best relationships are with the students of North Saanich.  He checks in with them daily, challenges them to be their best and makes sure they know that they are valued members of our North Saanich school and family.  He never waivers in his dedication to supporting students and helping set them up for success.  This is an amazing attribute for an educator.

June is a busy month at school, but we needed to make time to say a proper goodbye to Mr. Mark.   I knew I needed help making this happen, so I approached a couple of students for their assistance in planning a special assembly for him.  I asked one grade 8 member of our Morning News Crew, “I know you are really swamped right now studying for tests, finishing off projects, dancing, and sailing, but is there any chance you have time to make a slideshow for me?”  I could see in her face that she was very busy and reluctant, so I added with a sheepish grin, “It is to say goodbye to Mr. Mark.”  

“I will make time if it is for Mr. Mark,”  she replied.  “I will start looking for pictures today.” 

The next day she gave me an update. “We have started the slideshow, but it is going to be harder than I thought.”  

“Why?”  I inquired.

“We have gone through hundreds and hundreds of photos already and Mr. Mark isn’t that photogenic.”  

I then approached one of the members of our grade 6/7 basketball team and asked.,  “Do you think we should do something to say goodbye to Coach Mark?”  

He quickly replied, “I have been thinking about that already.  We should get him one of those mini-hoops and have all the players sign it,”  he continued with a smile on his face.  “I know that he will hang it in Caleb’s (Mr. Marks three-year-old son) room and slam dunk on him.” 

The assembly was a fitting farewell and thank you to an outstanding Vice-Principal.  It ended with our Music Maker students selecting a song of the week for Mr. Mark.  ‘Don’t You’ (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds played in the gym as we all headed back to class.  Thirty-three years ago the song was the lead track for the Breakfast Club movie and represented everything that was wrong with our educational system and students relationships with their Vice-Principal.  On this day in 2018 at North Saanich Middle School, it was the opposite!  I am pretty sure Mr. Mark will not forget about us and I know we will not forget about him.  

At North Saanich Middle School, a successful school needs a Vice-Principal that has positive relationships with students.  Mr. Mark has been that person for the last six years.  Thank you Mr. Mark, and remember that ‘we will call your name when we walk by’, because “Once a Hawk, Always a Hawk.” 

Go Hawks!