Written by Andrew Ottoson Wednesday, 18 July 2007 10:26
|Mark Grout. Click image to enlarge|
This fall at Goessel Junior-Senior High School, Marc Grout is entering his 10th year as a professional educator and first as a head principal.
“I think the Goessel job is unique for several reasons, one of which is that it’s a small school in a small community,” Grout said. “That fits with my background, because I grew up in Mankato, Kan., which is a town of similar size. And I taught for eight years at Centre, so I’m used to the small-town aspect.”
Beyond demographic distinctions, Grout pointed to the school’s location near the top of Kansas academics.
“Goessel is also unique because they have such excellent achievement in their academics,” he said. “The school posts test scores among the highest in the state and, at the same time, they have an excellent music program and excellent athletics.”
Goessel High earned a Governor’s Achievement Award in the 2006-07 year, putting it in the top 5 percent of Kansas schools.
“I see my job as a matter of maintaining an already high level of excellence,” he said.
Coming to Goessel may be an opportunity for the administrator to continue to learn.
“They’ve got things going the right direction,” Grout said. “That makes the job exciting to me, coming in to a situation where everything is done well, and has been done well, and hopefully will continue to be done well.”
Grout’s resume already includes eight years of teaching experience, as well as coaching basketball and track. He served as adviser for the Centre yearbook staff, and expects his recent time in the classroom will be an asset.
“I feel like I’m in touch with teachers and students—that I’ll be able to build strong relationships,” he said.
“Interacting with the staff and students is the part of the job that will come most easily to me,” he added. “My strengths are social skills, building relationships and establishing rapport.”
After completing a bachelor’s degree in secondary English education and a master’s degree in teaching and leadership at the University of Kansas, Grout taught seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade English at Centre while completing his administrative certification at Emporia State. He then served as assistant principal at Lakewood Middle School in Salina.
“One of the things I enjoyed most during my first year as an administrator was to sit in on classrooms and watch good teachers teach,” he said.
“I never really got to do that when I was teaching, and it’s a lot of fun, a very rewarding part of the job.”
In the classrooms at Emporia and in the hallways at Lakewood, Grout developed his administrative style.
“My style as an administrator is not really about being in charge of every detail,” he said. “My style is to work with the staff on a team level to create a vision for the school together.
“But like I said, I think they’ve already got things moving in the right direction now, and I think they’ve got a strong vision, so I don’t see a need for big changes, coming in.”
Besides keeping track of a school’s big picture, what does a principal actually do?
“A principal serves as a curriculum leader for a school,” Grout said. “And of course there’s discipline to deal with, as well as things like supervision of students and evaluation of teachers.”
But there is much that cannot easily be planned for, and Grout expects many of the administrator’s challenges to come in the details of facing the unexpected day by day.
“I think the most challenging part of the job is going to be juggling all of the things that come up,” he said. “You have to be prepared to wear a lot of different hats during the week, and you have to be very flexible in your schedule.”
The necessary degree of flexibility extends into every phase of the job.
“You can’t necessarily schedule out your whole day,” Grout said. “You have to be able to address the things that come up, and roll with what comes at you.
“Being able to switch gears from one thing to another, that’s probably the most challenging part of the job for me.”