Member Spotlight: Mark Palmer

Chelsey Martinez's picture

We want to share good news about education! MASSP is turning the spotlight on members who are making an impact in their school, district and community. Spotlighted members exemplify the mission of the MASSP: To advance learning through educational leadership.

Mark Palmer, Principal, St. Johns High School

How long have you worked in education?
Mid way through year number 30 right now! One year as athletic director at Shepherd High School, 7 years teaching math and history at Fowlerville High School, three years as associate principal at Lake Orion High School, and the last 18 years at St. Johns High School!

How long have you been an administrator?
3 years as Associate Principal, 18 years as Principal.

Give us a few personal details.
My beautiful bride Denise and I have been married for 24 years. We have two daughters who are currently a sophomore and junior at SJHS. I enjoy running, bicycling, and really enjoy the yearly camping trip to Wilderness State Park.

What do you find most challenging about your job?
Trying to balance what I see as best for kids with what everyone on the outside thinks what is best for kids!

What is most rewarding about your job?
I really enjoy seeing the success of former students after they have left high school. For example, it gives me a great deal of pride and joy to have a graduate of SJHS as my chiropractor and also one as my dentist. I like to think that in some small way, I may have played a part in their career decision.

Tell us about a program/initiative at your school that you are proud of.
Any success SJHS has had is not because of me. All I have done is let my people be creative in doing good things for kids. I really try to let teachers use their talents to help our kids succeed!

What advice would you have for those who are new to the Principalship?
It can really be lonely as a principal, not many can relate to what we do each day. Take joy in your successes no matter how small and don't dwell on what doesn't work out! There is always going to be a new challenge each and every day, so you will always have something new to get you up or down each day!

What is something you are working on or hoping to implement in the near future?
I've been described as an "in the box" thinker. After 29 years, I have learned to embrace this picture of me! So nothing earth shattering here, I just plan to keep fighting the good fight and keep SJHS moving forward!

Tell us about a training or book you've read recently that you found to be beneficial.
Two things come to mind and neither are all that new. Last year as an entire staff we did a book study on John Hattie's book, Visible Learning. We had some of the best staff meetings and discussions that I have ever had here in St. Johns. That is not just me talking, teachers actually said that they saw purpose in attending staff meetings.

I also went to a four day workshop with Anita Archer on Explicit Instruction. It was a hoot to be the only high school principal in a ball room full of elementary and middle school teachers. I learned so much about explicit instruction that applies to high school. Plus, I think I was the teachers pet or at least she appeared to think I needed a little extra attention and I didn't even sit in the back of the room like a high school teacher/coach would do!

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Questions? Please contact Chelsey Martinez at