Mark Lane looks forward to new role as Woodward-Granger superintendent
Mark Lane is looking forward to helping shape the growth of the Woodward-Granger Community School District through his new role as superintendent.
“One of the big questions people ask me is how are we managing for that growth and how are we thinking about that,” Lane said. “That’s really been a primary focus for me in these first few months is just looking back at what we have been doing. I’m really pleased that the board and the past administration were doing things to be thoughtful about the future.”
He is looking forward to continuing to manage that growth while still maintaining a small school feel.
“We’re at a size where students can dip their toe in lots of different activities and try different things,” Lane said.
Going back 15-20 years, he said the district had a student population of around 700. That number is now just over 1,000.
“We’ve seen growth and we’ll continue to see that growth and I think that provides opportunities to be really (mindful) of the future,” Lane said. “That’s exciting to me to be thinking about being a part of the communities and the district at a time when we can be thinking about what we want to do next. How do we want to improve that student experience and how do we want to make sure that we’re listening to our students and our families?”
Opening up communication between the district and the communities of Woodward and Granger has also been one of Lane’s goals since he started in his new role on July 1. He has already met with the mayors and police chiefs from both towns.
"I think Dr. (Matt) Adams did a great job and I want to continue to have open lines of communication with both our communities,” Lane said. “The more interdependently we’re able to communicate and work the more thoughtful we can be and the more proactive we can be in planning for that future.”
Adams, the former Woodward-Granger superintendent, reached out to Lane about the position.
“Dr. Adams is a good friend of mine, we’ve known each other for a long time. When he was transitioning to West Des Moines, he gave me a call and said hey, I think you’ll be a good fit and you’d enjoy working here,’” Lane said.
Lane served as the superintendent in the Decorah Community School District for the past three years though he was looking to come back to central Iowa as he grew up in Jefferson.
He spent five years as an elementary teacher before going back to get his master’s in school counseling. Lane served as the school counselor for his former district, Jefferson-Scranton and then at Waukee. He earned a second master’s degree in educational leadership and served as an assistant principal with West Des Moines. Lane then started as a building principal in Urbandale and moved into a central office position as the associate superintendent of human resources and operations.
He was in that position for six years before deciding to take an opportunity to be superintendent in Decorah.
“Central Iowa is my home. I grew up in Jefferson and we lived in Waukee for 17 years while I worked in central Iowa,” Lane said. "My wife and I have a lot of family here and we wanted to get back to central Iowa and the opportunity popped up here at Woodward-Granger.”
After spending a day interviewing in the district, Lane called his wife and said ‘this feels like the right fit.’ He was offered the job later that evening and started in his new role in the Woodward-Granger district on July 1.
Lane is looking forward to getting to know the students as school started on Aug. 23 across the district.
“I think something that has always been really important for me is really fostering student engagement and empowering student voice,” he said.
Those voices aren’t limited to high school students, especially as Lane has spent time as an elementary teacher.
“Our students see and understand what’s going on around them. Really empowering and having our students have that sense of ownership,” Lane said. “This is their school, it was built for them to learn. It’s really centered around the student experience so I want our students to be active participants in creating our culture, creating our vision for the future.”
Lane is still excited about seeing students continue to learn and grow as he enters his 27th year in public education
“The students are why we’re here,” he said. “You start out as a teacher, the reason you’re there is in the room with you everyday. You get to know this group of 20-30 students really, really well.”
That shifted to 500-600 students when Lane served as a school counselor. While he will now serve even more, he is looking forward to his new role as the Woodward-Granger superintendent.
“I still feel that responsibility and that connection to them on a daily basis because they’re the reason I’m here, they’re the reason I pursued this job,” Lane said of the students. “To know that my work hopefully has a positive impact on over 1,000 kids every day, it’s really rewarding.”