Randall resigns from OHS


Jade Hanson

Mr. Mark Randall has stepped down as principal at Owatonna High School

Jade Hanson and Emily Maine

After eight years as principal of OHS, Mr. Mark Randall resigned from his role at Owatonna High School. He has taken the position as a Senior Vice President of Human Resources (HR), Sales and Marketing at a locally owned business. Mr. Randall was approached by the company in the winter and the process continued over the course of the spring. Mr. Randall announced the end of his 24 years in education on Wednesday, May 16, at an after-school staff meeting.

Mr. Randall’s departure is bittersweet for the students and staff at OHS. He has tried to have as much of an impact on students’ lives as possible. He said, “Helping the teachers do the job that they need to do is probably the most fulfilling.” Only the last third of Mr. Randall’s education career was spent as principal of OHS. He appreciated teaching several different grades and believes that it better prepared him to be a high school principal. Mr. Randall said, “Part of what prepares you to be a secondary principal is to have a middle school and elementary school experience, because you kinda see the whole gamut of educations really from kindergarten all the way through graduation, and it gives you a little bit different lense to kinda work through.” He has loved knowing that he has affected so many people’s lives in his career as an educator.

When Mr. Randall first notified Superintendent Mr. Jeff Elstad, composing a timeline of how the announcement was to be made to the district and community, it became the main objective to tackle. Mr. Randall said, “We decided, as far as the announcement, we decided to do it after the bond so that it wasn’t another thing that people were thinking about.” The district is hoping for a two-week window to view candidates and begin the interview process. Mr. Randall is not involved in finding the 2019-2020 principal; instead, Mr. Elstad and the other district leaders are in charge of the process.

This new position seems to be a good fit for Mr. Randall. Because of his background, experience and interest in sales, he is looking forward to this new chapter in his life and his career. Mr. Randall’s new job will be focused on trying to increase sales, networking with people, getting the word out, increasing awareness of products and putting together strategic plans to continue promoting the product. His official start date for the new position is July 1st, but throughout June he is going to be slowly transitioning by jumping between both places.

Being a high school principal entails a lot of networking and good communication skills. Working in HR will be a little like what he does now. He never intended on changing jobs, but through some conversations, his mindset evolved and the position seemed like a good match. Through the course of the 2018-2019 school year winter, he was approached, and in the spring, more details came up, and it started to become more evident that he would like this job. Looking at the next steps of what he wanted to do professionally, HR is something he enjoys. His interest in helping staff be successful, and contributing to the hiring process is what has continued to keep him successful in his job now, and it will assist him in his future position.

It was hard because I’m not a risk-taker, and I have been in education for 24 years.

— Mr.Mark Randall

Looking back, Mr. Randall said his time here has been more about the students and staff, and what they have done. He is proud of the multitude of different things the school has been able to accomplish in his time here. Speaking about his decision to take the position, he said, “It was hard because I’m not a risk-taker, and I have been in education for 24 years.” Looking forward, new challenges and lots of unknowns are going to be evident as he is changing to something totally new. This was not something he had originally ever thought about tackling until he started discussions with the new business.

Being a principal is a very demanding job that comes with it can be a tough pace to keep up with, so he believes that taking a step back will be good for himself. The students and staff daily interactions, joking around and having fun with the students is what he believes has kept him young. He would describe his staff as “absolutely phenomenal,” and as one of the key reasons, it is going to be hard to leave.

Owatonna is really connected, so even though Mr. Randall may be leaving the building, he is still going to be close when questions arise. Mr. Phil Wiken brought up that Jeff Miller, a former assistant principal, was at the OHS yesterday.  Mr. Wiken said, “I fully intend utilizing his proximity to be able to continue to ask questions.” He has brought a lot of people into the process, and that is not going to stop. Commitment to continuing providing the best learning opportunities for students is going to continue as the main goal.

I think we’ll draw somebody really awesome, even though [Randall] is not replaceable. He is a great guy and a very strong leader.

— Mr. Phil Wiken

The excitement around Careers Pathways is still evident, and Mr. Randall’s step down is not going to do anything but motivate staff to keep the program alive and well. Mr. Wiken said, “I think we’ll draw somebody really awesome, even though [Randall] is not replaceable. He is a great guy and a very strong leader. He has been a really great mentor to me.” The district is planning to stay the course and continue all programs. Mr. Randall has done an exceptional job working with Mr. Wiken and Ms. Hollie Jeska to help them strive to go above and beyond their job.

After eight successful years at OHS, and 24 years in total as an educator, Mr. Randall has made the decision to approach a different career path. He is both excited and sentimental about this change in his life. OHS faculty and staff will begin the process of finding a new principal for the upcoming school year.