Mark Wells knew from an early age that he wanted a career in teaching. He was principal of John Hardin High School for seven years.
“My dad always spoke to me and modeled the importance of helping others,” Wells said. “He also stressed the importance of having a career that you enjoy going to work in every day.”
Growing up in the small town of Winslow, in southern Indiana, he had several teachers and coaches that he admired growing up and wanted to recreate what they had done for him.
“I can honestly say that I love my job and really appreciate the people I work with,” he said.
Wells, 42, attended Oakland City University where he played basketball. He is now in his 21st year of study.
Before becoming a director, he taught physical education and health. He has also coached basketball, two years in the girls ‘program and 10 years as a boys’ coach. He was a university coach for six seasons before becoming assistant manager for two years and then manager.
“Education is important to me because of the opportunities it can offer an individual,” he said. “I often tell our students to give themselves opportunities by working hard in the classroom. “
He said that in life people can stand out with a good education.
“It is very gratifying to see a former student or player come to see me and share the success he or she is experiencing as a result of his or her education,” he said.
Stepping into an administrative role, he said he enjoys being part of a team full of like-minded people coming together for a common goal.
“I am fortunate to work with very creative and smart people who really enjoy helping teenagers and I love and am proud to try to create an identity for our school,” he said. “We emphasize family, respect and success with our students. “
He said it’s gratifying to see a student change their attitude or behavior based on the work you do with them. He also sees his role in a unique position to help those who need it most.
As a staff member, he said strategies have been created to help students with learning and mental health challenges throughout the school year.
“We insist on taking the opportunity we have every day to have a positive impact on any of the students who walk through our doors on any given day,” he said. “I am fortunate to work with creative and caring people.
Heather Brown is John Hardin’s Spanish teacher and described Wells as an “educator-trainer at heart. “
“He corrects for the sake of self-improvement and supports with a servant’s heart,” she said. “Her positivity is contagious and the encouragement keeps us going when we are sure we have nothing more to give.”
She said Wells is goal-oriented and is always trying to figure out what the next step is and how to get there.
“He recognizes superstar educators and strives to grow them in the profession,” she said. “His team (students and teachers) always comes before him and adheres to the family mentality. “
The hardest part of being a manager, Wells said, is the weather. There aren’t enough of them to do everything he needs and wants to do in his job.
He said he wanted to oversee teaching, mentor new teachers, monitor assessment data, troubleshoot issues, help struggling students and help families, as well as attend all games, meetings, events. and shows associated with the school. But doing all of this is difficult.
“Most importantly, I want to be a good father and husband while trying to accomplish all the tasks that come with the senior job,” he said. “I am extremely fortunate to have excellent assistant managers, advisors and office staff who make my time more manageable.”
Kim Case, deputy director, said Wells was “the epitome of a servant leader.”
“He works harder than anyone in our building and always praises the students, teachers and staff and tries to turn away from himself,” she said. “He is a practical director who never shies away from any task. “
She said he did a principal’s job with humility and grace and could also be found dumping garbage, covering a classroom, mowing on campus, shooting basketball with balls. students with special needs, in an engineering lab learning how something is made and doing other tasks that are not within their job description.
As he does, she says, it helps him build positive relationships with others and sets an example of a strong work ethic.
“I have worked in five high schools throughout my career and loved each of them, but John Hardin is a special place because of Mr. Wells’ leadership and the family culture he has. created, ”Case said. “He models what he wants to see from others and always finds a way to encourage and support the people in our building.
Wells said there was no training designed to help teachers and administrators educate during a pandemic.
“We had to learn to be flexible and meet students in their individual circumstances,” he said, adding that he was proud of the work his staff did during the pandemic. “I don’t know how our teachers sometimes do when it comes to providing classroom instruction and also distance education to students in quarantine.”
He said he was amazed when he considered what staff did to provide instruction, mental health services, technology and food to those in need during the pandemic.
“As difficult as it has been, I still think people will look back on that time in the future and be amazed at what all schools have done for students and families during the pandemic,” he said. .
Along with education, Wells focuses on his faith and says, when he looks back he can see the path God took him to get to where he is today.
“To be honest, I wanted to teach and coach basketball in Indiana,” he said. “I came to Kentucky with Kristi (his wife) in 2001 and told her I would only be staying for a year, but that was it.”
But God, he said, had other plans. He was hired by John Hardin a few days before the new school opened and he didn’t even know the school colors.
“Here I am 20 years later, now a school principal and I have been fortunate to meet a lot of great people, but more importantly, help a lot of people over the years,” he said. .
You can reach Becca Owsley at 270-505-1416 [email protected]