New Saugatuck Middle/High School Principal Mark Neidlinger Enjoying New Role
Mark Neidlinger has almost a month under his belt as the new Saugatuck Middle/High School principal and he is loving every minute of his new job.
Neidlinger was selected as the local distric’t newest principal after an extensive search process, which included dozens of candidates with building level administrative experience from throughout the Midwest, Texas and the East Coast, according to the Saugatuck Public Schools’ Board of Education.
Neidlinger is filling the slot vacated in January by Tim Travis, who was named superintendent of the district in January.
“I have already had the opportunity to observe Mr. Neidlinger’s positive interactions with students and I am confident that he will lead Saugatuck Middle School and High School with the best interest of students always in mind,” Travis said.
“I love it, honestly,” said Neidlinger about his new role. “The energy in this building is really exciting to be around.
“I’ve been impressed with—and I’ve been in a lot of schools—the way this community supports the school, the way I have felt welcomed. Everybody is committed and it feels like I am right in place. It’s fantastic.”
Neidlinger’s goals for the future?
“My goal, first and foremost, is to just learn and build relationships. This is my third principalship—success always starts with building relationships.”
Another goal is to “change mindsets”…… faculty at the elementary school level will conduct study sessions on the book, A Mindset for Learning by Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz. And at the middle/high school level, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D
“The power of saying, ‘yes,’ to challenges rather than cutting yourself short. Instead of seeing problems you encounter as obstacles, approach them as challenges.
“Critical thinking is another component to this—creatively responding to hurdles and difficulties.”
Asked how he reconciled the vastly different approaches between a Montessori school (he spent the previous five years at Walden Green Montessori in Spring Lake, a K-8 school) and a public education, he said.
“One of the things that the district is really dedicated to is PBL—project-based learning—and that approach is much more tailored to looking at students as individuals, taking into account their interest. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have been interested in coming to Saugatuck.”
Neidlinger hails from Jension, MI. He graduated from Western Michigan University and obtained his Master’s Degree from Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill.
Neidlinger began his education career as an upper elementary and middle school language arts and social studies teacher.
He became principal at Drummond Montessori Magnet School in Chicago, and was in charge of the school’s change to the to the Montessori model, the first in Chicago to make that switch to that teaching model.
Neidlinger had most recently served as principal at Walden Green Montessori in Spring Lake since 2013.
“With his leadership experiences in Chicago Public Schools, Mr. Neidlinger brings a diverse educational background and new ideas to Saugatuck Public Schools,” Travis said.
“His background in the Montessori method of education dovetails well with our district’s focus on experiential learning, differentiated instruction and personalized learning opportunities and support for every child.”