Bloomington school district Superintendent Mark Anglin has only been on the job two months, but he already has big dreams for the district’s future.
Anglin was appointed by the school board in mid-June from 42 other applicants, six of whom were interviewed for the position. His predecessor, Abbie Barnett, resigned in April after being placed on administrative leave.
Now that he has the job, Anglin plans to raise the district’s state ratings, increase the overall reading level and prepare his students for the future they want.
“I interviewed with the board, and I laid out to them what my plan was,” Anglin said. “I told them if they are looking for a hatchet man, then I’m not the guy.”
Anglin worked as a teacher and coach at Wharton High School. He later became the junior high school’s assistant principal for six weeks before being promoted to high school principal. He most recently worked as the superintendent at Broaddus school district in east Texas.
Tina Herrington, Wharton superintendent and Anglin’s former supervisor, said Anglin has a can-do attitude and the district is lucky to have him.
“I can tell you the Bloomington Independent School District is very fortunate to have a leader like Mark Anglin,” Herrington said. “He has an outstanding work ethic.”
Before stepping into the classroom as an educator, Anglin joined the Marine Corps after college and worked as a communications officer. After serving, he went into the private sector and built homes, but he found that wasn’t the lifestyle he wanted.
“I realized no matter how much money I make, I wanted to help people,” Anglin said. “I got into coaching and teaching, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Anglin noted that when he took the superintendent position, he knew there was a lot to be done on the academic front.
“I knew there were some serious academic issues here, and I told (the board) exactly what I wanted to do to address them,” he said.
This past year, the Texas Education Agency assigned Bloomington ISD an overall D accountability rating, with the high school and middle school receiving a D and the elementary school getting an F. The ratings are used by the state to designate the district’s performance based on student achievement, progress and whether or not officials are closing the gap.
“That tells anybody there are some issues,” Anglin said. “It’s about looking at what caused us to be here, and you have to go back at least five years.”
Anglin said he knows many administrators don’t like standardized testing and state ratings, but he said they hold districts accountable.
He found that Bloomington consistently underperformed. He said reading is the way to get out of the cycle of low achievement because reading is involved in every part of academics, including math and science.
“I knew we had a reading problem,” Anglin said.
To help the students in his district, he worked with the board to purchase a $33,000 program called Reading Plus. The program is geared toward assessing a student’s reading and comprehension levels and navigating how to increase them.
Anglin is going beyond the classroom with the program as well.
He explained that a parent came to him wanting to help her elementary-level kids but couldn’t because she could barely read. The program can now be offered to community members free of charge. He said often in an economically disadvantaged community, parents have minimal high school education, and he wants to help them and their children.
“If we can help members of the community with their reading, then we will,” Anglin said. “We want to work with the community, and reading is key.”
Along with helping the community, Anglin plans to be hands-on in the classroom.
“Sometimes people get into administration and they think, ‘I can get away from the kids and be in this office,’ but my job is to serve these kids,” he said.
Anglin spends a few days a week walking through classrooms, where he evaluates teachers to better serve the district’s students. When he plans a visit, he asks the principal to show him a couple of great teachers, a few teachers in the middle and teachers who need work. He enters the classroom oblivious to what he may see. This way he goes in open-minded, he explained.
During his visits, he evaluates where the teacher is standing, what’s written on the board, how questions are asked of students and how information is being shared. He later discusses what he finds with the school’s principal.
Bloomington High School principal Lina Moore has seen four superintendents in her five full years at the district. With Anglin, she sees growth on the horizon.
“He has just been awesome. He has come with a lot of new ideas for things for us to do,” Moore noted. “There are some areas that we have a need of improvement, and he has ideas of ways to help the kids to be able to achieve what they need to do.”
Moore said the reading programs Anglin has implemented won’t just help elementary and junior high students but will benefit her high school students as well.
She said she is encouraged to see Anglin working with the students and walking through the campuses.
“The kids have gotten to know him very quickly,” Moore added. “They are able to know and see his expectations. When he tells them something, he means it.”
Moore is excited to see how Anglin advances the district in terms of college and career readiness.
Most of what Anglin has implemented is geared toward his long-term goal: making Bloomington an early college-ready campus. He wants to have students who are eager to enter college-ready and graduate high school with an associate’s degree.
“We want to make sure every child, once they are a freshman, that all these kids have something to go into college or a career (or) technical school,” he said.