June 1, 2007

DC High School won't be the same

Just of few school days left for Principal Mark Herman

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

After 33 years of teaching and administrating at Dassel-Cokato High School, Mark Herman is retiring and riding off into the sunset.

Herman began his career at DC in 1974 as a physical education and social health teacher and coach.

After six years of teaching, he became the director of the Area Learning Center for at-risk students for the next 15 years. He also taught the FOCUS (Facing Our Challenges with Unconditional Support) program from 1980 to 1985.

In 1995, Herman became the high school dean of students and in 1997, he became the assistant principal until 2006, when he became principal.

The highlight of his career was seeing students who struggled throughout high school end up graduating and becoming successful members of the community, Herman said.

He feels most blessed that in his 33 years at DC, he was able to coach, teach, and administer.

“I enjoyed doing it all,” Herman said.

And like any teacher or disciplinarian, he has faced some challenges as well. One of the most challenging and difficult parts of his career was losing his friend and colleague Dave Ortquist.

“It made me see that tomorrow is never a guarantee,” Herman said.

The most challenging aspect as far as being a disciplinarian was having to discipline students that he knew led a difficult life outside of school, he said.

Heidi Kepley, high school social worker and long-time colleague, describes Herman as having magic.

“He has the talent to touch the lives of the kids and parents like nobody else can,” she said.

After meetings regarding discipline and other hard issues, “Everyone walks out feeling better because of him,” Kepley said.

Much of this is due to his ability to relate to students and people alike.

“It’s a huge loss to the district. Many people have competence, but few have the magic,” Kepley said.

In regards to football, which Herman happened to be quite good at, having spent almost three seasons playing professional football, he prides himself with a three-year winning streak.

Herman led the DC football team through a 24-game winning streak in 1993, ‘94, and ‘95. The record is still holding in the Wright County Conference.

“The only disappointing part with that was, we didn’t make it to state, but we had a good streak going,” he said.

Herman’s energy, he says, comes from the kids, which is the part of his job he will miss the most.

Some students of his have even become his colleagues, including Perry Thinesen, the current DC activities director.

Thinesen has worked with Herman for eight years. Before that, Herman was his physical education teacher when he attended DC.

“I have had the pleasure of knowing Mark for 30 years,” both as a student and now as a colleague, Thinesen said.

“I’ve had the opportunity to observe Mark in a number of different capacities. One thing that becomes very clear about Mark is his strong heart for kids. He has always had a gift of being able to establish relationships with kids from all walks of life. Mark has always worked from the premise of trying to do what is right for kids. He will be sorely missed,” Thinesen said.

Mark and his wife, Elaine, of 35 years are going on a six-week motorcycle trip to California when the school year is over.

“She has been my strength,” Herman said.

He is looking forward to spending more time with her, his children, and now, his six grandchildren.

Herman is hoping to do some traveling and maybe even some missionary work he and his wife have talked about.

“It’s wide open,” he said. Just as his past has been led, so will his future, he said.

Mr. Herman will be missed

“Mark has been a true pleasure to work with. He genuinely cares for people, students and adults alike, and does all that he can to see that those around him succeed. His sense of humor and healthy perspective will be greatly missed.” * Jeff Powers, DC superintendent.

“He always listened before the consequences. It’s sad to see new generations won’t be able to know Mr. Herman.”

*Katie Butcher, 2000 graduate.

“Mr. Herman helped me find a job. When the paperwork got messed up and I wasn’t going to be receiving a paycheck for a month, he borrowed me money until I could pay him back. He also took my senior photos because my family couldn’t afford to have them done professionally.”

* 1987 graduate and FOCUS student

“He was my mentor, my only mentor and I really appreciate that. He will be missed.”

* 1994 graduate Angie Christensen (Gillman)

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