Have you wondered what the Pinewood faculty was like when they were our age? Going to school. Playing sports. Getting in trouble. Believe it or not, the Pinewood faculty was once in our position. Even our principal Mark Gardner.
Born and raised in Ogden, Utah in 1954, Gardner dreamed of one day coaching basketball or teaching history. He fulfilled both his ambitions as he taught at four public schools in Utah, then coached and taught at Pinewood when he moved here in 1984. He became a principal 30 years ago and had been a teacher for five years
previous to that.
Gardner has worked with a lot of different teachers whom he can now count on as good friends. One teacher, in particular, sticks out: Tammy Gardner. That’s right. Gardner and his wife were set up by two Middle Campus teachers when Tammy was a new teacher. His wife of over two years works in Middle Campus and teaches debate at the Upper Campus in the morning.
“I still mainly look at her as a middle campus teacher. It works out great though because we have the same vacations, go to the same events such as Jamboree, and sometimes drive together to get to work.” Gardner said.
Being a principal encompasses more than just sitting and waiting for students to get in trouble. He is the one who must stifle any conflicts that come up.
“I think he tries to be fair to everybody. He listens and tries to get to the bottom of an issue if there is a problem. He takes everybody’s opinion to account,” Dean of Studies Laurie Wilson said.
The most difficult part of his job, Gardner said, is assembling the semester schedules in order to factor in every student
Gardner said that being a principal comes with positive and negative repercussions.
“My favorite part is seeing the students walking down the halls waving hi. Watching what they do and their accomplishments, seeing their energy and their
vitality,” Gardner said.
On the flipside, Gardner is the one who must consult the students and determine their punishments.
“It is like tough love with your parents. They never like to ground their child or get mad at their child but they do it. They never like it. It always hurts to do it but with tough love that is what you have to do,” Gardner said.
Is it possible that Gardner was ever sitting on the other side of the desk? The answer is yes. One day, when he was a sophomore in high school, Gardner threw a snowball at his friend while he was standing in front of a door. Simultaneously, the teacher opened the door. The snowball whizzed by the teacher’s head and smacked the chalkboard. Afterwards, he was sent to the principal’s office and got in a lot of trouble which feels like the end of the world to any student at that age.
“I wasn’t really a big troublemaker. I had a lot of fun. I was too talkative in classrooms just like most kids. When I was a kid, I would have rather played basketball in the gym than been anywhere else,” Gardner said.
Being able to relate to the students and other teachers is a quality admired by his students. When he chaperones trips like the five-day eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C., he is able to temporarily
abstain from his principal duties and have a fun time.
“He is unlike distant principals in most schools because he’s really involved and connected to the students. I admire the fact that he remains so connected and close to the students while still being an authority figure,” sophomore Haley Mathews said.
There is certainly one question everyone is dying to know the answer to: does Mark Gardner garden?
“Yes, I am the only person in my neighborhood who doesn’t employ a gardener. I like to do the yard myself. I grow peas, peppers and tomatoes, if I had more room I would grow a lot more.”
Unless Gardner is recruited to the Chicago Bears as quarterback, he is planning to keep his position as principal as long as he possibly can. His association with the students and friendly environment are all factors that keep him coming back everyday with a smile on his face.
“What’s not to love about Pinewood. It is like I leave my house in the morning and instead of going to work I go to my home away from home, Pinewood,”