Mark Desjardins Teaches Service Before Self at Holland Hall
By D. FORREST CAMERON
Editor and Publisher
HOLLAND HALL HEADMASTER DR. MARK D. DESJARDINS
GTR Newspapers photo
Dr. Mark D. Desjardins appears to be the perfect person to lead Holland Hall into the future. The youthful yet veteran educator began his tenure as headmaster at the independent, coeducational, college preparatory Episcopal affiliated day school this past summer, and his Installation Ceremony was held September 9.
Quality education has been the centerpiece of Desjardins’ professional life. The son of a Ph. D. medical school professor, Desjardins was raised in Austin, Texas, and attended prep school in the East. He holds a B.A. in East Asian Civilizations from Bates College, a M.Ed. in Secondary School Administration from the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D. in the history of American education, also from the University of Virginia.
His most recent assignment before Holland Hall was as the Head of School at the Texas Military Institute, where he served since 1996. He has also served at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut and at the Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. His accomplishments are outstanding at each of his former institutions, and he is active at professional meetings, independent school conferences, and in professional organizations. He believes in service and has many honors, awards and commendations.
Desjardins is a sports and physical education enthusiast and an active runner, having completed four marathons, including the 100th Boston Marathon.
Having been raised in Austin, Desjardins says he feels at home in Tulsa. “The two cities are fantastic and mirror each other,” he comments.
Before coming to Holland Hall, he says that he knew of the school’s reputation. “It is an outstanding educational institution.”
He says that he enjoys administration and the overall school environment. “I have always been service oriented, having been a teacher and a coach. I love the company of being around young people.”
Desjardins says that he enjoys the “bigger picture” that administration offers. He explains, “I enjoy history. The background gives a good focus on administration. I like to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, and I care for young people.”
The enrollment at Holland Hall is at 1,039 students, one of the highest ever, according to Desjardins. He adds, “Holland Hall has many wonderful resources, including the faculty, the physical plant, and the size of endowment.”
He commented on the school’s growth and the endowment during his Installation Ceremony: “Holland Hall can not be accused of being stagnant. I believe the original founders of Holland Hall, whose history is so entwined with that of the Tulsa community, would be astonished to learn that the school they created has today assets totaling nearly 100 million dollars. To put that amount into some perspective, when you look toward the East and the rich history of private education within that region, you will see that Holland Hall’s resources far exceed that of every day school in the Boston and Philadelphia area, with the exception of Roxbury Latin School—and it has been around for over 350 years. The accomplishments of the original founders and their successors over the past 80 years is nothing short of remarkable. To be even more specific, Holland Hall’s current endowment places it in the top 1 percent of day schools nationwide, and 27th out of 1,100 independent schools including those of residential communities.”
Desjardins believes the students of Holland Hall should give back to society. He says, “Our students have an obligation. I like to quote St. Luke: ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’
“I ask our students to be useful people in the world. Life should be more than just having a diploma. What should drive us is to be better human beings. The quality of an institution is judged by what is said of the graduates in the obituaries.”
He continues, “We have good parents, a good community, and we should give back to the community. We need to be decent human beings.”
As he mentioned during his Installation Ceremony, “The underlying mission of Holland Hall is to help students develop their gifts and use those gifts in the service of others.”
Desjardins and his wife Maro have four children: Daphne, 11; Chloe, 9; Elias, 5; and Lucas, 2 years.