“Gratitude implies humility- a recognition that we could not be who we are or where we are in life without the contributions of others.” Robert Emmons, professor, researcher, author
My family and I have officially completed our first full week as members of the Episcopal community. The experience has been fulfilling, exciting and inspiring, and we are grateful for the opportunity. In February, my wife, Nicole, and I made the decision to move to Baton Rouge to join this community so that I could serve as the new Middle School Division Head. Starting a new school year is an exciting adventure for most of us, but taking on this new role and finally getting to meet our students has made the start of this year even more so for me. Nicole shares in this feeling as she has also joined Episcopal as the Lower School’s fifth grade science teacher. Our children, Alex, who is a sophomore and Emma, who is an eighth grader, are also happy to be Knights.
Based on our first impression of the Episcopal community, we are ecstatic with our decision to come here. We have encountered wave after wave of nice kids and families, which aligns with the waves of nice faculty, staff and administrators we met over the summer. Nicole and I are also thankful to be back in Louisiana. I was born just down the road in New Orleans and graduated from Ben Franklin High School. I am also a graduate of the University of Kentucky, the University of New Orleans and Framingham State College in Massachusetts – if I could, I would be a full-time student every year of my life! Over the course of my career, I have taught in South Korea, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil and was most recently the Middle and Upper School Division Head at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas. My heart has always been working closely with Middle School students, faculty and their families so that we can help them through this critical period of their lives. The window to impact young people is smaller than we realize sometimes and I want to capitalize on those moments when we can help build character.
I believe that the foundations of guiding Middle School students are compassion for what is hard about this stage and a celebration of all the opportunities that are presented. Tween and teen children want and need guidance. I hope that our theme of respect and gratitude will add to their family values/faith to help them lead fulfilling lives. Middle School is a time of significant transformation for our students as they discover new things about themselves and the world around them. It is an honor to help them grow and navigate this time in their lives.
As my wife and I navigate the change in our own lives, we are enjoying the opportunity to show our children Louisiana culture. How can we go wrong with some of the best food in the country right here? Already, we have tickets for the Angola rodeo this October and we plan to visit Avery Island once the heat subsides. We’re also looking forward to cheering on the Knights and really getting to know our new school family.
We look forward to next Thursday, August 22nd and the Middle School Parents Night. This fun evening allows us to share all the amazing things that are going on each school day. I hope that parents enjoy the night and walk away with a stronger sense of the amazing learning experiences available to their child each day. I also invite anyone who would like to meet to contact me. I am happy to meet with any parents interested in sharing more so that Episcopal can be a stronger partner in helping their child learn, grow and achieve their dreams.
Thank you again to everyone who has welcomed us to the Episcopal community. I pledge to pay forward the incredible welcome we have felt each day.
Mark Engstrom is Episcopal’s Middle School Division Head. Prior to joining Episcopal he served as the Middle and Upper School Division Head at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas. Mark is a Louisiana native and a graduate of Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans. Mark earned degrees from the University of Kentucky, the University of New Orleans and Framingham State College in Massachusetts. He has extensive experience in blended learning and has led multiple professional development opportunities regarding blended learning. Mark has also published articles on personalizing student education. Mark particularly enjoys working with Middle School students as they transition from elementary school students to high school students. Mark is married to Nicole, Episcopal’s fifth grade science teacher. Their children, Alex and Emma, are Episcopal students.