Hi Smarties, meet Mark Helmer, the newly-named head of Covenant Day School. Mark will take over in July of 2022. We took a moment to get to know Mark and thought you should too!
Mark is a small town guy from Cary, Ill. He went to Wheaton College in Illinois for undergrad and earned a masters in educational leadership from Covenant College. He and his wife Andrea always wanted to live in the Southeast, so they jumped at the chance to land in Charlotte where Mark first took a job at Covenant Day in 1998. Mark has been a teacher, an athletic department staff member, lower school principal, and associate head of school at Covenant Day.
He and Andrea have two sons – one in 9th and one in 4th grade – who have attended Covenant Day since kindergarten and transitional kindergarten, respectively.
In his free time, you can find Mark running, hiking, or camping with his family. You might even run into him while out to dinner with his wife!
As the new head of school, what is your vision for Covenant Day?
I want to see Covenant Day stay firmly rooted in our Christian heritage and worldview while offering our students a comprehensively excellent experience that prepares them well for their future callings, wherever God might lead them to serve.
How have your 24 years at Covenant Day prepared you for this position as head of school?
I have a clear window into so many different areas of educational life… I have a deep love for the mission and vision of Covenant Day, which is why we have chosen to stay at CDS after all these years. I’m excited to advance our excellent tradition while helping the school continue to mature in various areas.
How has COVID changed education, from your perspective, and what have you learned that will help you to overcome it?
These last two years have been very difficult for teachers and school leaders to navigate, and we have been stretched in ways we could never have anticipated. COVID has absolutely caused us to realize how flexible we must be in a rapidly changing environment, and that increased flexibility and ability to respond rapidly can help us as we move forward.
What is Covenant Day doing to retain educators as well as recruit for the future, given the record number of teachers leaving the profession due to COVID?
This is a frightening reality. It is incumbent upon us to take care of our staff, listen well to them and be responsive, and provide them the resources and encouragement they need to do their critical work. This has always been important. We need to continue to treat teachers as professionals, including ensuring we carefully consider their compensation and benefits. Above that, I believe our teachers need to keep hearing how valued they are by our school community and how much we appreciate what they do every day. Teachers have been our heroes in all of this. As a school, we also need to look nationally for the best potential staff members who will embrace our mission.
With so many private school options in Charlotte, how should families find the right fit?
It’s important that families consider what they really want from a school and what school seems to best align with their core family values. Families should obviously review a school’s website and literature, but they should also take a private tour of the school via the school’s admissions department and talk to families who already have children enrolled in the school to learn about their experience.
Why should families choose Covenant Day?
One piece of feedback we’ve received that I really appreciate is that “you are who you say you are.” That feedback is in response to Covenant Day’s expressed interest in being an authentically Christian and academically excellent school which provides a comprehensive experience for our students. We will continue to strive for excellence in all areas of our school, including our extracurricular activities, and we want to do so for God’s glory.