Wednesday, August 8, 2018

From the Principal's Office to the Principal's Chair and Back to the Classroom!

From the Principal’s Office to the Principal’s Chair and Back to the Classroom!

Biographical Sketch of Mr. Bartmas

I was born in Erie Pennsylvania and was adopted at birth by my mother and father. My older brother was also adopted and is three years older than myself. Dad was a pastor for the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination all of his life. Mom was a pastor’s wife, and a stay at home mother that kept everything running smoothly…until we would mess it up! Dad was very intelligent and would read multiple books at a time to feed his appetite for knowledge. Mom was also very intelligent and read throughout her life. I remember most of my life even up through my high school years my parents reading to us aloud and sharing their love of reading. On car trips, mom would read to us as we traveled- our imaginations built quite the image of: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Watership Down, Wrinkle in Time, Pilgrim’s Progress, The Black Caldron, Rabbit Hill and many other books that I then read to my own children and classes. My parents raised us to be moral good people based on the Christian values that my father preached for over forty years.

My first six years of life I lived in a small town in Northwest Pennsylvania; Union City. I loved kindergarten and the first part of first grade. I was energetic, and curious. My father then took a church in Altoona, PA. I walked into a classroom that was already established and rocked a teacher’s world. This first grade teacher was the worst teacher I ever encountered in my education. I will not name her, but to this day I break out in cold sweats if someone has bright red lipstick and horn- rimmed glasses! No matter what I did she would belittle me and treat me as an interruption to her class. One day she paddled me for throwing snowballs after I had already gotten home. We lived right across the street from the school where our classes were being held. My father went in to talk to her, and to his death he would say that when she was done talking to him, he felt like he could walk out under the door. In the second grade my classroom was next to hers, and she would discipline me if she saw, heard or thought that I had stepped out of line. My second grade teacher was very sweet, and timid. From this point on my attitude towards school changed. I became the student no teacher wanted in his or her room. I hated school! In fourth grade I had a teacher that gave me a glimmer of hope. Her name was Hope McCartney, and she cared. I always found it interesting that her name was Hope. When I walked into her class the first day of school she asked if I was Mark Bartmas. I thought, “Oh no.” She said, “I have heard a lot of things about you, and I want you to know that I do not believe any of it.” She had my attention from there on out. When I deserved disciplined, she gave it to me, but she did it with respect, and she also complimented me when I did well. I had several other teachers in my school career that were similar in nurturing like Hope, but she is probably the positive point that I refer to as an educator. We actually stayed in touch up until her death. I have always told my students I do not want them to have a negative teacher like I had, and I always want to be the legacy to Hope’s style of teaching.

Junior high and high school were not especially good for me. I did not care about grades, I made bad choices, and I became more worried with how fast I could run than I did about how well I performed in the classroom. My parents kept me steered in the right direction, but I was a rebel without a cause. When my senior year came around I wanted to either join the military, work for Conrail, or become a police officer. My parents and other influential people in my life talked me into trying one year of college. I was too young to join the military without my parents signing off on it, Conrail was fading, and I was too young to be a police officer, so I went to college. I will just say what Dad would say, “Mark went to college and majored in fun his first two years.” I had never learned to study, and I had the opportunity to play college basketball…until I had to quit because of grades! The college president called me into his office my sophomore year and told me I had to make a choice, stay and get my grades up, or transfer to school where I could focus on academics. This is what I did- except the school I wanted to attend would not accept me because of my poor performance at Nyack. I went to Penn State and proved myself. I was able to start learning how to study and focus, got my grades above a 3.0 and transferred to Asbury in Kentucky. They had no sports that I was interested in, and my future wife lived in the town of Wilmore, Kentucky. She helped me study, learn my multiplication tables, and become more focused on my-our future. I was surprised when I felt the, “call,” to become a teacher; I hated school!

We got married my senior year of college, I graduated, and we moved the following year to Indiana where I started my teaching and coaching career. After twenty-four years in the same school system I left, and looked at other opportunities in education. Within a month I knew I wanted to be back in the classroom. I taught a semester in a neighboring school system, and then the following year started my teaching career in Alexandria-Monroe Community Schools. I had never gotten my master’s degree; I hate school! With moving to Alexandria it would be beneficial to have my master’s. I was encouraged to get my educational leadership degree, and at forty-eight years of age I completed it in two years while teaching, instructing driver’s education, and most of all being a husband and a dad.

Upon completion of my degree, the superintendent and the principal of our building approached me with an opportunity, assistant principal. I went from having a classroom to teach and build relationships with to having an entire school. I also got to go to our PreK-2 building on Wednesdays to fill the chair for that building while their principal worked on his doctorate. My learning curve went straight up! At the end of the 2013-2014 school year the superintendent approached me with another opportunity…principal of the intermediate. As I started this part of life’s journey I draw on all the life experiences that I have had in education. My questions were constantly: How can I help students reach their full potential? How can we positively impact a student’s life? How am I modeling a positive eAttitude? I had moved from being in the principal’s office to being in the principal’s chair; Lead Learner!

After five years as an administrator and finding that my real passion is teaching I moved back into the classroom. My short five years as an administrator has given me quite a bit of insight into my teaching, and learning. With the many connections that have developed in my PLN, I hope to continue to model the teacher autonomy, creativity, curation, student choice, relationship building, data guidance, communication, feedback, professional learning and other positive approaches that were part of our goals as a building when I was an administrator. If I ever go back to administration I will take the lessons I learn, mistakes that I have made, and the relationships built with me to be a better lead learner.

1 comment:

  1. I am still a rebel. I ain't as old as you, yet. I am only a decade away. Leave sports, we aren't too different.
    I dislike colleges too.
    How in the world did you manage to to cage your rebel to sit in those boundary walls called classroom?