By ERIKA ANDERSON, Special to the Bulletin | Published August 22, 2014
DULUTH—Bringing with him a passion for Catholic education and the experience of building a new school, Brian Marks is excited about the possibilities of serving as Notre Dame Academy’s first high school principal. The independent Catholic high school is scheduled to open to ninth-graders in fall 2015. It will add subsequent grades every year thereafter.
Marks has spent the last 13 years serving as the assistant principal of Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell—an experience, he said, that taught him a tremendous amount and left him with a wealth of memories. He started at Blessed Trinity during the school’s second year, serving with Principal Frank Moore. There he helped to get the school off the ground by developing curriculum, hiring faculty and creating disciplinary guidelines.
“Those experiences at Blessed Trinity are what prepared me for this responsibility,” he said. “It’s amazing to look back and see how it grew. Frank Moore was a great mentor and an even greater friend. I’d like to think he was proud of me when I received this opportunity at Notre Dame.”
During his time at Blessed Trinity, Marks also served as the director of admissions. In that role, he was responsible for marketing the school, chairing the admissions committee and serving as the head of their student ambassador program.
Prior to the opening of the new high school, Marks will spend much of his time marketing the school and getting the word out about its inaugural year. He’ll also be overseeing the construction of the new buildings that will house the high school. The school purchased 21 acres of land adjacent to the existing elementary and middle school campus on River Green Parkway off Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.
Ground was broken May 19 for the first phase of the expansion to include a 12-classroom building and a multipurpose gymnasium and fine arts building that will serve students in the pre-kindergarten 3-year-old program through 12th grade. Future phases will include an additional 22-classroom building and full athletic facilities.
While at Blessed Trinity, Marks served as the head basketball coach. During the last eight seasons at the high school, he guided his teams to 162 wins, averaging 20 wins per season. He is looking forward to offering extracurricular activities, including athletics, to students at NDA.
“I definitely want our students to have a well-rounded experience, so I hope to offer an extensive list of extracurricular activities—from academic, to fine arts and especially service—because we are, first and foremost, a Catholic school,” he said. “And I’m excited to give our students the opportunity to compete in athletic activities. One of the five pillars of Notre Dame Academy is fitness. I’m a coach at heart, so that really spoke to me. I know how important that is.”
Notre Dame Academy is an independent school sponsored by the Marist priests and brothers and an International Baccalaureate World School. It was the first Catholic elementary school in the country to receive authorization from the International Baccalaureate Organization, an honor that appealed to Marks. It opened in 2005 and currently has approximately 530 students in pre-K-3 through eighth grade. Debra Orr is the head of school.
“The International Baccalaureate Programme really interests me a lot. There’s a great academic breadth and depth here that encourages critical thinking among the students and gets them excited about learning,” he said. “They’re encouraged to become global thinkers—that’s so important these days.”
A native of New York, Marks received his bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in English from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. He earned his master’s degree in educational administration from the University at Albany, State University of New York.
Marks and his wife, Mary, who teaches fourth grade at Notre Dame Academy, have a son, John, and are members of St. Peter Chanel Church, in Roswell. He is looking forward to the opportunity to spread Catholic education to more families.
“Taking the Marist traditions and some of the things I’m so proud of that I helped establish at Blessed Trinity to create a vision for this school is what I’m most excited about. It will definitely be a challenge, but it’s such a wonderful opportunity. I hope that the end result is that more families will smile because their children have the chance to attend Catholic school,” he said.