A wealth of experience gained from working with students with behavior disorders could be one of the biggest assets new Alta High School principal Larry Martin will bring to the building this fall.
Martin isn't expecting any trouble with behavior from AHS pupils, but the experience working with high schoolers who require extra attention has prepared him to deal with any of the challenges that could face him in his new leadership position in Alta.
Martin, 37, has been helping pupils with behavior disorders for the past six years at Fort Dodge High School, and said his time spent there provided him with a good background on subjects such as discipline and understanding the needs of every student.
"I think my behavior disorders background has helped me understand what can happen to students, and I know what resources and strategies are out there to help students in different situations," Martin said. "It was a wonderful learning experience."
Martin said he was excited to begin his role as AHS principal, as he said it will give him the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of many students.
"I like the smaller community feel," Martin said. "The chance to reach more kids was something that was definitely attractive to me."
Martin said one of his biggest goals initially is to be able to get to know all of the students in the high school, a much easier task at Alta than at Fort Dodge. A total of 1,200 students were enrolled in grades 9-12 at FDSH, a figure double the population of the entire Alta school district.
The smaller size of AHS, however, will give him a chance to communicate with students more effectively, something Martin said was important.
"I'm not a person that likes to be holed up in an office," Martin said. "I'd prefer to be out with the students and get to know them on a first-name basis."
In addition to helping out students, Martin will also be responsible for a number of other issues at AHS, including attendance, scheduling, improving sportsmanship and figuring out how rooms previously occupied by seventh and eighth grade students will be used in the future.
Keeping a high academic standard at the high school will be the top priority, though, Martin said.
"I want to continue the tradition Alta has here academically," Martin said. "I think there are very qualified teachers here in the district, and it seems like the district has a very solid academic program overall."
A graduate of Interstate-35 High School in Truro, Martin grew up on a farm near the small town of North Virginia, and said he has been reminded of the close-knit nature of smaller communities while he and his family have been in the process of moving to Alta.
"I've had a wonderful welcome," Martin said. "Everyone that I've met has been very supportive, and I feel fortunate that I've been able to have that kind of warm reception here in town."
Martin's family includes wife Laura, a special education teacher recently hired by the Storm Lake School District, and two sons, who are in fourth and second grade.