Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor
Photo by Blake Nissen
After an extensive outside search across southwest Ohio, information collection on candidates, paper screenings, phone interviews, in-person interviews, and a final performance task, it turned out the best person for the job was just down the hall.
On February 23, the Mason City School Board approved the motion to appoint Interim Principal Dave Hyatt as Mason High School Building Principal. Hyatt, a staff member since 1997, has seen it all: he’d been there for the transformation from farm town to tech-hub. He understands the community and school district and how it functions, forging important relationships with staff and students, making him the perfect man for the job, according to superintendent Gail Kist-Kline.
“Mr. Hyatt has developed good relationships with staff, students, families and the community,” Kist-Kline said. “I am confident he will maintain those relationships…He is able to bring people together and I know he plans to enhance the instructional leadership capacity of those around him.”
After the sudden departure of Mindy McCarty-Stewart in August prior to the beginning of the school year, Hyatt was quick to step up and take on new responsibilities as interim principal and explore his professional interests.
“For me personally, it was a professional journey as far as what it’s like to be a building principal here at Mason High School,” Hyatt said. “That journey for me was a good thing. I was able to just step back and get to know what our teachers do more, what our kids are about and work with some community members; I really enjoyed it. That offered me an opportunity to get to know what I wanted to do and professionally where I wanted to go and I ended up being able to apply for the position of building principal.”
Hyatt’s professional journey was backed by the support of many staff members, including English teacher Patricia George, who circulated a petition for Hyatt to fill the role of principal.
“I knew the district was doing a nationwide search,” George said. “I just thought because Mr. Hyatt has been here in Mason since 1997, he has a better handle on what this community is and how it got this way. He’s seen it, he’s been an administrator…For the kind of community we have, I think somebody who knows it inside and out was going to be the best person for the job.”
Hyatt has done it all: he’s been a teacher, an athletic director, a coach, an administrator, and an assistant principal. He can now add “building principal” to his impressive resume. Though Hyatt has extensive experience with Mason City Schools, he still had to go through the same process as would any other applicant for the position.
“The process is about finding the best person that leads this building and while it’s great to be liked and supported by colleagues, whether I was the best person needed to be decided by a process,” Hyatt said. “There are great principals outside this district that could come in and do great things. It’s about fit and it’s about timing.”
Those relationships formed throughout the years has made an impression on staff and students alike; George said Hyatt is personable has been working hard to bring together the vast population of MHS.
“He relates to the staff on a very personal level,” George said. “He’s visible. He’s approachable. He has made it his goal from August to rebuild a sense of community in this very large building of nearly 4,000 students.”
Hyatt said he values the time spent with individuals and helping others, which he attributes to his “servant” leadership style.
“I’m willing to listen,” Hyatt said. “Each of us have our own stories and our own challenges and our own strengths…Being able to sit and listen and talk through that and work together to overcome some of the things that each of us face is important to me.”
Science teacher Randy Hubbard said Hyatt’s main focus is on the students and that’s what it’s all about.
“He’s student-oriented,” Hubbard said. “He’s a guy who was in the classroom for a long time so he loves to help kids develop into good citizens and he’s a good role model.”
Originally published in The Chronicle on March 11, 2016.