I'm Dr. Mark Christopher, Principal at Austin Junior High School. I want to take a moment to introduce myself.
I grew up in Decatur and graduated from Austin High School. I earned a B.S. in Mathematics at Athens State University and an M.A. in School Counseling from The University of West Alabama. I completed my Doctorate this past year. I've loved the 18 years spent being an educator in the Decatur City School system. I look forward to another successful year as Principal at AJHS.
What do you love about your job?
I love being a principal because I'm part of everything. I'm fortunate that I've worked with really good people that have been mentors for me, allowing me to grow in many different areas and functions that make a school run smoothly. My goal in everything I do is to make a positive difference. I love fostering leadership in other people, whatever their goals are, and helping them to achieve those goals. The other thing I love about my job is being around students.
What personality traits do you contribute to your success?
I think I'm even-keeled. I get excited and a little animated sometimes, but I'm usually able to stay calm, gather the facts, and get the information I need before jumping to a conclusion. I've learned as a principal that not all decisions need to be made quickly, and not all decisions need to be made from an emotional standpoint. Level head, stay calm, and that usually wins the day.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
As calm as I may present on the inside, it's not always that way. The best way I've heard it described is you see a duck on the pond gliding across the surface, but under the water, those feet are churning. Inside my mind, my anxiety and my gut are pretty much turning. Some people might be shocked to know that about me. I stay calm on the surface, but I'm a worrier. I'm a planner, but I'm probably more anxious than people think I am.
What best advice motivated you to become an educator/principal?
Every kid needs somebody, an advocate, to root for them, regardless of their background or experience. That's been big for me on why I went into education. My mom is a retired teacher. I saw her do that throughout her career. She's the main reason I chose teaching. A mentor of mine shared with me several years ago a saying or advice, "Don't let them steal your joy." Come back tomorrow and fix it. My faith is strong, which helps when I am down or having a hard day. Remember why you do what you do and the joy that comes with what we do for a living. Keep a positive mindset.
What is one character trait you hope to instill in your students, and why?
Never stop learning.
Dr. Christopher was born to be a principal but says if he hadn't chosen education as a career, "If talent wasn't a question, a country music singer. I love to sing."