With 14 campuses across Indiana, The Excel Center® — Goodwill’s high school for adults — is filled with many highly-qualified instructors, coaches, special education coordinators, paraprofessionals and additional support staff that are dedicated to leading students toward success. Mark Van Dyk, a humanities instructor at The Excel Center on Michigan St. in Indianapolis, is a shining example of the passion and commitment that the staff of each school possesses.
With a big heart and desire to help others, Mark first joined The Excel Center in 2014. He describes feeling a strong connection to the Goodwill mission, one that would only grow as he became more involved within the organization. In addition to teaching students, Mark is also a Lead Teacher at The Excel Center. Through this role, he serves as a resource, support system and mentor for other teachers at the Michigan St. campus.
This distributive approach to leadership helps facilitate a strong culture of responsibility and trust. At the heart of this is creating an environment that promotes student success.
“Cultivating the soil for good teaching must always translate to helping students achieve their own goals, desires and personal transformation,” Mark describes. “I feel my role is to create and foster an environment in which teachers can flourish, where they can take risks, be creative and do what they know is best in their classrooms.”
Mark's passion for teaching and for empowering students is evident through his daily interactions with individuals around his building.
“To help a man when he falls, encourage a woman when she's about to quit...what else is there?” Mark asks. “The transformations our students make in a year is awe-inspiring; to be even the smallest part of that means everything.”
Mark’s admiration is mutually shared by his students. Describing his funniest moment as a teacher, he reminisces of the time one of his classes wanted to throw a party in his honor.
“They needed to get into my room to hang stuff and make it look festive, but in order to do so, they had to keep me out of my room. They enlisted our office manager to invent a fake personal crisis in order to distract me! As I was ‘counseling’ her in another room, they set up the party. It was hilarious and humbling.”
Mark finds motivation from the interactions he shares with his students, citing their drive and determination as his favorite part of teaching.
“Watching my students find their courage, their self worth, their love for learning, their path and ultimately themselves is very rewarding,” Mark says.
In honor of National Teacher Day and Teacher Appreciation Week, Goodwill and The Excel Center extend our sincerest appreciation toward Mark and all of our educators and support staff that encourage and inspire our students each and every day. Thank you for being a part of the Goodwill family!