HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 2, 2020) – Mark Page, principal at Atkinson Elementary, was named the 2020-21 Principal of the Year for Henderson County Public Schools this afternoon, with district administrators surprising him with the honor during what Page thought was a run-of-the-mill snake hunt.
Amanda Childers, Small Schools Administrator for Atkinson, Etowah and Hendersonville elementaries said, “I was thinking, ‘How am I going to get him out of his office?’” Page explained, “They sent me on a snake hunt. I was in the Boy Scouts so whenever there’s a snake on campus, they come get me.”
Page joined Henderson County Public Schools in 2007 as an assistant principal at Rugby Middle, after earning his Master’s degree in School Administration from The Citadel. In 2015, Page was named principal at Atkinson Elementary and has served in that role ever since – working with staff and students to build a culture of distributive leadership.
Page said, “I’m honored and humbled that my colleagues have recognized me when all of them are so deserving.”
Each school year, the Principal of the Year is nominated by and voted on by his or her peers – the other 22 principals in the Henderson County Public Schools system. This gives special significance to the designation, HCPS Chief Human Resources Officer W. Scott Rhodes and Assoc. Superintendent Dr. John Bryant explained to Atkinson staff and students tuning into the surprise on a video call.
“One of the defining features of Mr. Page is that he’s an Eagle Scout,” said Childers, who orchestrated the decoy “virtual staff meeting” for Page. “He follows the Scout Law and works to grow everyone as leaders.”
Under Page’s tenure as principal, Atkinson adopted FranklinCovey’s Leader In Me student leadership program in 2018, implemented through the Henderson County Education Foundation. Childers said Page embraced and grew the Leader In Me at Atkinson because the model aligns perfectly with his vision that everyone – students, teachers, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria staff – can serve as leaders in their school and community.
“He encourages staff to have open communication with him,” Childers said. “Mr. Page is constantly checking in with them on how he can support them and how they can grow in leadership and problem solving.”
Page is an advocate for health and safety in schools, humble in successes, and mindful of supporting the work/life balance of his staff. “He does a really great job of advocating for balance and reminding everybody that family is important,” Childers said. “He models spending time with his family and investing in those relationships.”
“Mr. Page is an exceptional leader who loves his students, staff, and school community,” said Rhodes. “Through his leadership, he and his staff have created a great place to learn.”
In addition to his Master’s degree, Page earned his undergraduate degree from Western Carolina University in 2002.