Mark Geraets, is an education leader with a career spanning 40 impactful years. Born in New Zealand as the youngest of seven to Dutch immigrant parents, Mark’s university education journey began at 16, as the youngest student at Teacher’s College. By 30, he assumed his first principal role in Whakatane, NZ. Venturing abroad, he taught in Bangladesh, deepening his love for travel and the International Baccalaureate education system. This passion led him to the International School of Basel, where he spent 12 years. Later, Mark revitalized Scots Independent School in Australia, transforming its enrollment and finances. Currently, the Head of Senior and Deputy Principal at Fintona in Melbourne, Mark anticipates a well-deserved retirement soon. Alongside his wife Yvonne, a former teacher, they’ve shared adventures across diverse education systems. As Mark reflects on his vast experiences, he’s especially excited about his newfound role: as a new grandfather.
Mark has worked in several careers and countries. Before education, he was a butler and worked at a psychiatric hospital. As a Deputy Principal of an all-girls school, he is inspired by the ways his students and teachers create learning opportunities, especially with engagement from alumni for support. He has the pleasure of bringing his dog, Fabio, to work to help students find joy.
Over the years, he has found some constants in education:
- Students need to feel they are important, cared for, have opportunities to succeed, and can make a difference.
- “Finding your spark of genius” is a catchphrase Mark learned while working in South Korea. This idea has served him well as a motivation for student learning.
When counseling younger administrators, he cautions them to “make haste slowly.” Talk, talk, talk…to students and the community.
- Manage by walking around.
- You will make mistakes.
- Don’t allow ego to become your enemy. Book reference: Ego is the Enemy: The Fight to Master Our Greatest Opponent, by Ryan Holiday.
- Create contacts and build relationships.
When asked to share a failure story, Mark related how in his first assignment as an administrator, he tried to implement curriculum changes to include more differentiation. The idea was sound, but the implementation left out the input and buy-in of his teachers. As a result, he apologized and began over.
Other advice he gives includes:
- Be kind to yourself. Take time for fitness, eat well, and have fun. If it’s not right, move on. Celebrate successes along the way.
For new or aspiring leaders, he adds:
- Be aware of the imposter syndrome, and remember you are ready and can make good things happen. Have a mentor outside the organization you’re in to provide guidance and perspective.
You can stay connected with Mark Geraets through his LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mark-geraets-4b88a923/ or by email at email@example.com