Rock Bridge's future principal, Mark Maus, plans few major changes for the school

Monday, March 22, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:35 a.m. CDT, Monday, March 22, 2010
Future Rock Bridge High School principal Mark Maus leaves a Student Council meeting Thursday after meeting with the council for the first time. Maus will start his new job at Rock Bridge on July 1.

COLUMBIA – Mark Maus has been an Eagle Scout, football player, triathlete, math teacher and assistant principal.

Now he's taking on a job as principal of Rock Bridge High School.

Maus, 32, now assistant principal at Oak Park High School in Kansas City, begins his new position on July 1.

He has bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Northwest Missouri State University; he is  completing a specialist degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in education administration; and he has enrolled in a doctoral program  at UMKC in urban leadership.

Here are excerpts from a conversation with him last week:

Q. What has been your professional experience at Oak Park High School? 

A. I have been at Oak Park for nine years. I was a math teacher, had football and track coaching positions and then was achievement coordinator part time and math teacher part time. I was assistant principal for three years.

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

A. Being an Eagle Scout in high school. I started as a Tiger Cub before I was in kindergarten and went through the entire process with friends. I am also involved in the Leadership Institute for the North Kansas City School District and was voted by my peers to receive the Dr. Vicki L. Baker Leadership Institute Award.

Q. What has been the biggest influence in your life?

A. Probably my parents. Both have been very positive and absolutely supportive throughout my life.

Q. Tell me about your family.

A. My wife, Katie, has been a special education teacher for nine years. It will be our eighth wedding anniversary this summer. I have two girls:  Hadlie is 3 1/2 and Ava is 10 months.

Q. What were you involved in when you were in high school and college?

A. In high school, I played three sports — football, basketball and track — all four years. I was also in the show choir all four years, and I was in the musical starting in seventh grade, although I am not a good singer.

I was also involved in National Honor Society. It was a small town – Smithville, Mo. – so I could do a lot of things. I played football in college and was one of two M-Club delegates, the letterman’s club, for my junior and senior years.

Q. What are some of your interests and hobbies?

A. Spending time with my family. I also run triathlons because I realized I needed to lose some weight after playing football; it was better than just lifting weights. I enjoy playing golf, and I love cooking.

Q. Why did you decide to apply to be the new principal of Rock Bridge?

A. I was looking for an opportunity to be a principal, and I looked throughout the entire state. I talked to some people I knew in Columbia about Rock Bridge. I really believe in Rock Bridge’s “freedom with responsibility,” and I believe that students will meet the expectations you have for them.

Q. How much did you know about the school before applying?

A. I tried to get as much information as I could — conversations with people in Columbia were very helpful. I also talked to Dr. Laffey, Columbia Public Schools assistant superintendent for human resources. I also looked at the DESE Web site (Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) and the school’s Web site.

Q. When did you find out that you were selected to be principal?

A. On Feb. 26.

Q. How do you think your experiences will help you as principal?

A. Oak Park and Rock Bridge are very similar-sized school districts – North Kansas City has about 18,000 students and Columbia has about 17,000, and both have block scheduling.

I think I fit the needs at Rock Bridge, and I don’t think things need to change greatly. This school has had fantastic results that I want to continue.

Q. What do you appreciate most about Rock Bridge?

A. The trust placed in the students, the collaborative culture and the student-centered decision making.

Q. In getting to know Kathy Ritter, the current principal, what would you say is the most important goal of the school?

A. Putting students first. Students are trusted to make good decisions.

Q. What, if anything, are you looking to improve?

A. I want to continue to raise scores and ensure that all students walk across the stage with a plan for the coming years in their lives. That doesn’t mean that plan can’t change though.

Q. What do you hope to learn most by being principal?

A. I want a feeling of success for every student, so learning how to meet each student’s needs is most important.

Q. What do you hope to teach most by being principal?

A. I want to make sure we all know that kids are valued – that culture is already here and I want to continue it.

Q. What are you doing now to prepare for the change?

A. I came down this week, my spring break, to meet with students and teachers to start building relationships and get into classrooms. I’m seeing teachers do great work.

Q. What is the one thing you would like people to know about you?

A. Some kids are curious if we will get rid of AUT, or unassigned time, when they have free time on their own — I don’t plan on touching that. I don’t believe in change for change’s sake.

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