Schlekeway makes move from teacher to administrator
March 25. 2013 8:21AM
Mark Schlekeway stepped into his role as associate principal at Brandon Valley High School a few days earlier at last week’s state boy’s basketball tournament.
There, he worked alongside Principals Gregg Talcott and Brad Thorson, keeping the enthusiastic Lynx student fan crowd in check.
It’s one of the many tasks he’ll do now instead of teaching high school math courses following the Brandon Valley Board of Education’s approval of his profession change. The school board approved the move earlier this month, and Schlekeway officially began his new administrative duties as associate principal at Brandon Valley High School on Monday.
“I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity at Brandon Valley because this is the place we want to be,” he said.
The “we” he speaks of is his family, wife, Julia, and daughters, Griffen and Leighton.
But as the teacher-coach makes his move from classroom teacher to administrator, he admits to having some mixed emotions.
“You spend 50 minutes a day with the kids for 180 days, so you develop some close relationships with them,” he said. “So my decision to leave the classroom was a difficult one along with the coaching part.”
Schlekeway will head up the varsity boy’s tennis program one last season, but will share some of the head coaching responsibilities with new assistant coach Mike Zerr, a former head tennis coach at Aberdeen Roncalli.
“That should help bring some closure to the coaching part,” he says.
Schlekeway has been a teacher-coach at Brandon Valley High School for 10 years. In addition to boy’s tennis, he also served as assistant coach for the girls basketball program.
Over the past decade, the Pierre native has proven to be a leader, assuming roles on the School Improvement Team and taking a lead role recently in the math department’s transition from the State Standards to Common Core Standards. In 2009, he completed his Master’s in Education Leadership at the University of Sioux Falls.
“Mark has accepted numerous assignments over the last many years to allow him to grow his leadership skills and allowed me to observe him,” said Principal Gregg Talcott. “He comes from a strong education family … he knows the business.”
Schlekeway said he’s elated the administrative opportunity arose at Brandon Valley.
“This is the place where Julia and I want to be,” he said. “We’re entrenched in the community and we bleed red and black.”
The teacher-coach turned administrator is excited to step into the associate principal job held by Brad Thorson for the last 13 years. “I’m extremely happy for Brad,” he said. “But it’s unrealistic for me to come in and say I can fill Brad’s shoes.”
Thorson was recently selected as the head principal at Brandon Valley Middle School, and is transitioning into the role by filling in as the associate principal until the end of the school year during Randy Hill’s medical leave. Thorson will replace Dan Pansch, who is retiring from a 35-year career with the district.
Talcott advises Schlekeway just to be himself.
“He just has to be himself in that role,” Talcott said. “Brad is Brad and Mark is Mark. And this will be a transition for all of us – Brad, Randy (Marso) and I were a team for 13 years but I’m really thrilled for Brad. He has an opportunity to run his own building, and he’s so ready to do so.”
Schlekeway said both Talcott and Thorson have been “grooming” him for an administrative position. “They helped prepare me for this job because they knew I was interested,” he said. “We have a strong administrative team that’s been here a long time.”
Adds Talcott: “I think it’s great that we have talented people in the district and that we give them the opportunity to lead, and I say both (Schlekeway and Thorson) are ready to take this on.”
Filling the vacancy in Schlekeway’s classroom is Brandon Valley graduate, LeAnn Severson. Severson did her student teaching at Brandon Valley during the first semester of the current school year, and has been hired as a long-term substitute.