Mark Hanson, a Waterloo native, graduated with a BA in English from ISU in 1981 and then received his MA from UNI in 1986. He began his career in Education in the Waterloo schools from 1981 – 1992 teaching English, coaching basketball, football and tennis and notably winning four tennis conference championships and one state team title at West Waterloo in 1991. He became assistant principal at West Waterloo in 1992 and added Athletic Director to his title in 1996. Continuing his leadership journey, he became the Principal of Burlington High School in 1997 and then the Principal of Iowa City for 2 years. He then accepted the position of Principal at Ottumwa High School in 2010 and retired in July 2017.
Hanson’s leadership has been recognized with various awards including Iowa Cheer Coaches’ Administrator of the Year in 2014, Runner-up for School Administrators of Iowa Secondary Principal of the Year in 2014 and then ultimately was awarded the School Administrators of Iowa Secondary Principal of the Year in 2015.
During his time at OHS, graduation rate increased from 75% in 2009 to 89% in 2016. Another measure of leadership success was significantly increasing scores in the Iowa Safe and Supportive Schools survey that measures environment, student engagement, and safety. Hanson led many initiatives during his tenure at OHS including creating support positions of a Welcome Center Director, Graduation Coach, Instructional Tutor; initiating Student Assistance Team at OHS as well as home visits during the summer. You may hear “Bulldog Nation” which Mark coined to describe OHS.