LINWOOD — Mainland Regional High School Principal Mark Marrone repeatedly used the word “we” as he told the school board Thursday night why he wants to be the district’s new superintendent.
That vision of the school as a community was just one reason the board unanimously gave him the job.
Board members’ only concern about promoting him was finding someone as good to replace him as principal.
“You are Mainland, and Mainland is you,” board member Kevin Milhous said. “How do we keep that ‘we’?”
Marrone, 40, of Northfield, said that will be a question to ask principal candidates. He listed finding a new principal as one of the three most important challenges facing the district. The others were dealing with the local economy and school budget, and meeting state mandates for students and teachers.
In a presentation on his plans, Marrone said the goal is “building for our students’ future, not our past.”
He talked about changes that have been made, ranging from the unit lunch to eliminating class rank, expanding both AP and Read 180 programs and providing academic options for all students.
He talked about wanting every student to feel committed and engaged, even if that meant he would eat the beet cake made by the food ecology class.
He talked about Mainland as a high-performing school that also has students living on the verge of homelessness.
Marrone is so engaged with the students and staff, board members asked if he believed he could let go of the principal’s job to become the more administrative superintendent. Marrone said he was ready to move up, and wants to be a mentor to someone else as others have been to him.
“It’s a one-building district,” he said. “I’m still here, but I’m here to empower others.”
Marrone has been at the school for nine years, as assistant principal and then principal in 2011.
Mainland Regional Education Association President Ray Romito said he has the support of the teachers and staff.
“He is a great choice,” Romito said. “He was the number one candidate.”
Ted Khoury, whose son, Dean, was one of four students killed in a car accident in August 2011, told the board he has watched Marrone grow as a leader.
“I am the culture he put together,” Khoury said. “I am still involved now because I buy into what you are doing here.”
Marrone, whose family attended the meeting, got emotional as the board voted.
“We’re going to make this place like you’ve never seen it before,” he said.
The specific terms of Marrone’s contract are still being developed and must be approved by the executive county superintendent.