Former teacher, resource specialist at Hawthorne becomes principal

Published 5:50 pm Monday, July 31, 2023

A familiar face is in a new role, as Marie Adams is set to become principal at Hawthorne Elementary School this fall.

“I have been working for Hawthorne now for —  this is my fifth year,” she said.

Like her predecessor, John Mahal, Adams comes from a long line of educators. Her mother served as a superintendent, and Adams shared her passion in leadership, particularly youth leadership and how education affected a community. 

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What appealed to her about this position was the community built within the building with students, staff and families.

“I’m very knowledgeable about the systems that we are maintaining in addition to that family support,” she said. “The collaboration that happens here is something that inspires me, motivates me every day and I always say that I would be nothing without the team of people that have surrounded me and have ultimately led me to this position.”

For her, the people that made up the school was the reason she applied, describing them as an “all-hands-on-deck” team that collaborated to put kids first. She also noted students were eager to arrive and try different learning opportunities.

This will be her first time serving as a principal.

“This has been a dream of mine my whole life, to be an educational leader,” she said, noting she felt she brought a fresh perspective to the position. 

At the same time, she acknowledged any transition entailed a learning curve.

She also knew the “edu-speak,” a term defined as the language of the discipline.

“I know all of the languages, and I’ve had lots of rich experiences that have prepared me for this role as a resource specialist, as a teacher-leader,” she said. “But ultimately, in any new position there is going to be a big learning curve.”

To address the concern, she planned to lean on partnerships and mentorships with people who experienced success in those roles, whether through family or friends. And she’s happy to ask questions.

Adams described herself as an advocate for student needs, an outside-the-box thinker and a good listener, organized and hard-working with a drive/desire to make an environment the best it could be.

Her short-term goals include simply continuing what the school was doing, whether Multi Tiered Systems of Support or High Reliability Schools.

“That really provides a great scaffolding for districts, for schools, to do purposeful work to make sure that their organization is operating at a high level,” she said. “Really I don’t think it’s about making a bunch of new things come up and setting a bunch of new goals. The work that we do here in the short term, and in the long term, is a result of the feedback and the work we’ve already been doing.”

Long term, she’d like the school to think critically, adapt and evolve while building community partnerships. In doing that, she felt they would be preparing students for the world after high school. 

Speaking with students and parents, she said they were excited an internal candidate was hired for the position, especially a person who knew what was going on and was seen in the community and was relatable.

Adams and her husband, Blake, have two young daughters and a golden retriever named Walter.

“We’re a very active family, I still play volleyball two or three nights a week,” she said.

She also coached junior varsity volleyball at the high school, while Blake coached hockey.

The couple enjoys spending time on the lake, and Marie also enjoys reading, and described herself as a “‘True Crime podcast fanatic.” 

She likes coffee, and the couple enjoy cooking, especially Mediterranean.

“My husband always says there’s always going to be lemon, onion and garlic in a dish for me,’” she said.   

Marie started her tenure at Hawthorne as a third-grade teacher, a position she held for three years before becoming the school’s resource specialist. 

“That’s how I heard about this position,” she said, referring to the principal opening.

Prior to Albert Lea, Marie was a teacher and coached volleyball, basketball and track within the Kasson-Mantorville Public School District for four years.

She was born and raised in Blooming Prairie. During her time as a student, she actually played basketball in the Albert Lea High School gym.

“Very familiar with the ins and outs of the area, the outlying communities,” she said. “This is home and it always has been.”

Adams’ first day in the position was July 1.