Accepting the job in April and working his first day in July, Philomath High Principal Mark Henderson entered this school year as one of the biggest personnel changes within the school district.
Henderson joined Philomath’s administrative team after serving as assistant principal and athletic director at Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis. He took over for Brent Belveal, who had filled the position on an interim basis.
Following are Henderson’s answers to five questions:
Q: You went to a smaller high school back in the day in Washington state and you’ve been at larger schools during your career in education. What would you identify as the biggest advantage to the educational experience on a campus the size of Philomath?
A: I think the biggest advantage from an educator’s standpoint is our ability to have eyes on ALL of the students. It’s very hard for a student to slip through the cracks. From my experience as a student in a small school I feel like the biggest advantage is being able to develop strong relationships, with both staff and students. I graduated in 1982 and to this day I have maintained relationships with most of my graduating class and several teachers. It’s very much an extended family.
Q: On the other end, what would you say is the biggest challenge that smaller schools must overcome to reach desired outcomes with students?
A: Larger schools are usually able to have more variety in the programs that they offer which allows them to meet a wider range of student needs. I have been impressed at the variety of programs that we do have here in Philomath. The challenge for us is crafting a learning schedule that allows our students to access the programs that interest them the most.
Q: You’re still new to the position at six months in but what are you most proud of so far when it comes to PHS?
A: What I’m most proud of at this point is our implementation of systems that track and monitor student progress and provide interventions. I’m excited to see how these are coming together to address student needs and how invested our faculty has become in such a short time.
Q: Are there any upcoming PHS-related projects or plans that you’re excited about?
A: Given that two-thirds of our administration team is new to Philomath, our main focus this year was to develop relationships with our students and staff. We didn’t want to plan any major changes this year. We do want to continue to refine and adjust our student support systems as we move through the remainder of this year and in the near future we want to look at how we can better utilize our early release time on Fridays to better support student success.
Q: What do you do for fun when you’re away from your job?
A: My wife and I spend a lot of time being grandparents to two wonderful grandkids, ages 1 and 5. It is so important for us to be involved in their lives! I also enjoy motorcycling and belong to two different groups in the area. The riding in Oregon is fantastic!