With 2,000 students together at the combined La Porte Middle School and Kesling Intermediate School, it’s not an easy feat keeping every 5th through 8th grader involved in both academics and athletics. However, Mark Wilson, the Dean of Students at La Porte Middle School and Kesling Intermediate School, spends his time doing just that.
Wilson has been with La Porte Community School Corporation (LPCSC) for over 26 years and has served as the head coach of the La Porte Slicers Girls Basketball team and golf team for 20 years. When Kesling Intermediate School and La Porte Middle School were combined, Wilson was the perfect man for the job.
“They needed someone that could incorporate athletics and come up with some ideas to keep 2,000 kids happy,” Wilson said. “This position really interested me because I wanted to work hand-in-hand with the high school athletic program and I thought I could offer some stuff up to really improve our middle school athletics.”
Because it’s the first year for the LPCSC Kesling Campus, it was Wilson’s number one priority to implement athletics for all grades. However, due to COVID-19 sending students home for the rest of the year, Wilson was forced to focus on how to keep students involved in online learning.
“We are trying diligently to monitor these kids, and some of our internet providers have been really generous throughout our community by offering free internet to many of our families,” Wilson said. “We’ve seen some of our teachers get so creative with how they go about creating their lessons and we’re always helping our teachers, sharing ideas, and problem solving.”
It’s no secret that this time is difficult for many, which is why Wilson is doing everything in his power to make things as easy as possible for everyone involved.
“This is new ground for all of us, whether we’re principals, superintendents, governors, students, parents, teachers, so we’re really relying on creativity,” Wilson said. “But most importantly, we’re trying to be considerate and compassionate with what all of our parents are going through.”
Even though the end of the winter sports season and the entire spring season of sports were ultimately cancelled, physical education teachers have been working hard to keep their students active at home. This comes after very successful first-year numbers in sports for all grades.
“We know that some of our students are limited to the physical activities they can do,” Wilson said. “We know that we can’t make these kids do the assignments, so we’re working hard to motivate these kids because the school year didn’t end when we went home.”
Even though his first year as Dean of Students turned out to be unique, Wilson couldn’t be happier and knows that next school year will be all the more exciting for everyone.“What I like best about my job now is that I have some input into what decisions are made at both schools,” Wilson said. “I feel really comfortable in this new role.”