September 30, 2023
Pickerington Online’s Meet the Candidates
BREAKING INFO -MARK HENSEN is RECOMMENDED by Pickerington Education Support Professionals – The Pickerington Support Staff Association (PSSA)”.
MARK HENSEN IS ENDORSED BY Pickerington Teachers – The Pickerington Education Association (PEA)
“I believe we have a good school district that has the potential to be much better, but we don’t have leaders on the school board to help the district make that happen. I want to help support the success of every student, significantly improve school board communication and engagement with the community; facilitate enhanced teacher and staff success; and work to increase parent
and caregiver involvement,” said Mark Hensen.
Hensen is one of five candidates vying for three seats on the Pickerington Local School Board in the November 7 election.
Hensen said the biggest issue facing the district is the need to pass an operating levy to ensure appropriate teaching staff and support services remain available and effective.
As a board member, Hensen plans to work with the district treasurer John Walsh “to get a comprehensive, detailed understanding of the district’s budget, including all revenues and expenses and their timing. With that knowledge, it will be time to start educating the community on the operating levy needs – what it specifically gets us and what the potential consequences are of not getting it passed. Educating the community beyond normal board meetings will be required to ensure a sound understanding of the levy’s needs and ramifications.”
Increase Parent Involvement
“We need to involve more parents and caregivers in supporting their children in school and their children’s teachers to enable better attendance and behavior, better grades, and better social skills in school,” Hensen said.
He believes, the school board needs to actively engage and educate the community via special board meetings, town halls and social media. Additionally, the board should establish a citizen advisory committee to help brainstorm and develop new ways of involving more parents and caregivers.
“The school board should also establish long-term advisory councils for the board in academics and school climate/culture, which would involve students & teachers/staff and parents and caregivers,” Hensen said. “The district should look into establishing some type of district/parent team with community partners like Big Brothers Big Sisters and the
United Way to provide more mentoring and tutoring support to kids.”
Successful Effective Teachers
“We also need to work to enhance teacher and staff success to enable fully effective teachers who are properly valued and appropriately resourced. We also need to focus on making success possible for every student.”
To enhance teacher and staff support, Hensen wants the district to look into improving at least three areas – reduced class sizes, increased planning time and shorter school days (with earlier end times) in the elementary grades, and increased teacher pay.
These items should be planned in conjunction with the operating levy to “take one bite of the apple” and plan for the district in a more comprehensive manner.
“We need to educate the community regarding the complete nature of our teacher requirements and their compensation to include the disconnects, especially relative to other similar successful districts in the Central Ohio area,” Hensen said. “Regarding the success of all students, we need to include parents (representative of the entire community) on all school Positive Intervention & Behavioral Support (PBIS) teams. We also need to personalize the promotion of pathways (e.g., college, trade school, military) for each student starting in junior high school.”
“There needs to be more engagement from the staff of PLSD schools with the board of education,” Hensen said. “It is not appropriate for a well-functioning education system to have the district filtering everything.”
A standing advisory council to the board of education would help as would implementing some kind of “suggestion box” for PLSD staff to bring up school or district-wide issues to the school board’s attention. Additionally, the operation of the school
board needs to be changed so that the school board agenda is developed jointly by the full board and the district leadership.
“The current process of the superintendent driving the agenda doesn’t facilitate (academic achievement) accountability,” Hensen said. “Nor does it recognize the school board-district working relationship that should exist, i.e. that the superintendent/treasurer works for the school board. Finally, school board communication and engagement need dramatic improvement. After each school board meeting, a summary/highlights of the meeting should be published via website, e-mail, etc.”
How you might know Mark Hensen:
“I have loved substitute teaching full-time across the Pickerington Local School District,” Hensen said. “I am also a member of Peace United Methodist Church, where I teach Sunday School and Vacation Bible School (to fifth and sixth graders) and coordinate Financial Peace University.
He also volunteers in the schools.
“Currently, I’m on a focus group with PHSN and also help their band and golf team,” Hensen said. “I also served on a district citizen advisory committee a couple of years ago. I have also volunteered to do tax return preparation here in Pickerington. Lastly, I enjoy coordinating a local investment group called the “Columbus Bogleheads” that meets monthly to help educate people in investing and personal finance matters.”
Who is Mark Hensen?
“I’m a military brat, so we moved around a lot when I was very young,” Hensen said. “My dad retired after 20 years in the Air Force and we spent the last eight years of my childhood in Topeka, Kansas. I have three brothers, two older and one younger who are all doing well and still live in the surrounding area. My mother died of cancer when I was very young, my dad remarried a few years later, but both of them passed away about 23 years ago.”
Hensen enlisted in the Marine Corps right out of high school and served on active duty for nearly 34 years. He was stationed all over the country and the world – from California to North Carolina, from Japan to Afghanistan. Hensen performed in a variety of capacities in the Marine Corps – everything from legal to financial, from recruiting to civil military operations. Hensen retired from the Marine Corps in 2013 and his wife Elaine retired from the Marine Corps in 2016.
“We stayed in northern Virginia until our son graduated high school in 2017,” Hensen said. “We then moved to Pickerington to be near Elaine’s family who live in eastern Ohio. I had also been stationed in Columbus as a Marine Corps recruiting officer many years ago which is how Elaine and I met – she was about to graduate from the Ohio State University at the time.”
The family chose to live in the community because “we like the small town feel of Pickerington – it’s a friendly, supportive community that has a lot of spirit. There’s also a number of things to do that we enjoy like the parks, the farmers’ market, the parades and festivals. It’s been a good place to raise a family and we’ve met a lot of great people.”
Two of Hensen’s children are adults while the youngest is still in high school.
“Our oldest daughter is a college graduate who now lives and works in Colorado with her husband,” Hensen said. “Our son recently completed graduate school in Washington, D.C., and remained in the area for work. Our youngest daughter is a Pickerington High School North student and enjoys being in the band and playing on the golf team. My wife, Elaine, also substitute teaches and spends time getting our daughter around and helping her mother out who lives a couple of hours away.”
Hensen enjoys watching college and professional football as well as several other sports.
“We also have an Australian shepherd named Jen who I walk almost daily and a cat named Kiki that we acquired while we were stationed in Okinawa, Japan a number of years ago,” Hensen said.
Why he’s a good fit for the Pickerington School Board:
“In my career in the Marine Corps, I was intimately involved in managing budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. I also formulated numerous policy documents and developed training standards for maximum effectiveness and efficiency,” Mark said.
“I was also involved in the personnel process as a hiring manager on many occasions. These are all skills/areas that will serve board members well. I also believe my experience in the Marine Corps gives me the communication, teamwork, and leadership skills necessary to help the school board. Finally, I believe my experience as a full-time substitute for the last five years gives me some good insight.”
What others are saying about Mark Hensen:
Larry Armentrout, the adult discipleship coordinator from Peace Church, vouched for Hensen’s character.
“Mark Hensen is a man of integrity and substance, who is authentic, decisive and a proven leader. He is intentional as a father of his two adult children and of a teen-age daughter who attends Pickerington Schools and is a husband who values his bride. He is self-assured and a man of humility at one and the same time.
Mark has a conviction that public education is important. He has demonstrated that conviction and passion for Pickerington Schools by serving as a full-time substitute teacher for the last five years and also serving on the PLSD Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) displaying both written and verbal communication skills and a collegial mindset.
Mark is a strategic thinker and does what he says he will do. He will serve with honor and
distinction as a decision maker and public servant on the Pickerington School Board, just as he
did as a career Marine Corps officer.”
Former teacher Reynaldo Cordova said that Hensen is a “perfect candidate” for the school board.
“I have known Mark about 6 years when our daughters played club soccer together. While our daughters have found other interests and teams, we have remained friends. I found Mark to be not only personable but well-read and versed on everything from soccer conditioning to politics.
I was a teacher in Columbus City Schools at the time, so naturally it became a topic of interest as he was beginning to seek out substitute teaching in Pickerington. Through his endeavors, Mark has always had a goal in mind and a plan to help him reach those goals. He didn’t waste time with non-decisions or frivolous endeavors. When he studied something, he went all in. This is one of the many reasons why Mark Hensen is a perfect candidate to become a member of the Pickerington School Board.
Over several lunch meetings and discussions, he’s provided data and solutions to help students in his district, from kindergarten readiness to college readiness with seniors. He’s aware of the ever-changing landscape teachers and administrators must wade through each year and has found common sense plans to help PLSD move forward
in the next several years.”
For more information on Mark Hensen visit: www.VoteHensen.com.
Pickerington Online does not endorse any candidates or issues.