Message from the Head of School
Welcome to The Lang School, where you will find that being exceptional is not only recognized, but celebrated!
It is my pleasure to be the Head of School, Interim this year. Every morning, I greet the students as they arrive in the morning, either by bus, train or even by bike! We are located in Lower Manhattan in the Financial District,
right at the famous Charging Bull statue. We think that the statue is an apt icon for our students who are unique and resilient and with the support of our incredible faculty are focused on optimism and growth.
Our school is driven by a purposeful mission and an unwavering commitment to our twice exceptional students and their families. I delight in partnering with our highly trained staff who each day support the development of skills and strategies called for by our learners' giftedness and areas of challenge. Where students often stood out for the wrong reasons in their prior schools, students at The Lang School fit in so that learning, growth and a positive sense of self can be cultivated. These highly promising learners have teachers and supporting staff members who appreciate and empower them and their talents. It is a thrill to be part of this school.
I invite you to come see The Lang School in action. Lang's vivid and dynamic outward impression is indicative of the great things going on inside the classrooms.
With warm regards,
Dr. Sue Groesbeck
Ongoing Head of School Search
Board Chair Gavin Simms announced to the community on November 22, 2022, that Mark Otto has been appointed by the Lang School Board of Trustees to serve as our next Head of School. Mark is a visionary educator, proven administrator, and collaborative community builder. The Search Committee unanimously recommended Mark to the Board, who voted that he should succeed Sue Groesbeck, our current Head of School. Mark will join Lang and assume the Head of School role in July 2023. See Mark's bio below.
Throughout the search process, Mark consistently demonstrated exceptional interpersonal skills, a genuine warmth, and an openness to considering a wide range of views and perspectives. He impressed the Search Committee and Board of Trustees with his understanding of The Lang School and our mission and culture. He is an experienced educator and administrator who will bring vision and passion and community building along with an evidence-based approach to his new role. In his words, he will
…work hard to ensure that Lang continues to be a school community that meets the needs of all our students and families. I will advocate on behalf of 2e students and spread the word of the student-centered, innovative work we are doing at Lang, as a model for what is possible throughout the country. I will also continue the work that has already begun to ensure Lang is a place for everyone and that we expand our understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging to identify our areas of strength and where we still have room to grow.
His colleagues had this to say about Mark –
He is a visionary. Anything you give him to do, he will create a vision around. He is passionate about young people and education, particularly vulnerable populations. He believes staff should be empowered to make decisions.
Everybody loves Mark. Not only is he funny and articulate, but he is also just smart and takes time to build relationships with people. Even while teaching in a challenging community he can find humor in the work. He gets along with folks. He is trusted and people knew he could support them when needed.
The feedback from those of our community who met with Mark agreed with those sentiments. He was described as
A real leader, forward thinking, strategic, respected.
I believe Mark is highly qualified for the Head of School position and cannot think of any questions about his ability to succeed at Lang.
Mark has committed himself to getting to know our community, to maintaining and strengthening the mission and culture of the school and helping us all create the next chapter of Lang together.
Board Chair Gavin Simms commented
I would like to thank the entire Lang community for your participation in this search process. The shared vision that we collectively defined at the outset of the Head of School search has guided us through every step of the process, and I’m thrilled with the outcome. In addition, I especially thank the Search Committee for their tireless commitment to the intense and demanding work required of this critical decision.
We will be in touch during this school year as we finalize plans for introducing Mark to the Lang community, and we look forward to seeing him at our school frequently over the 2022-2023 academic year.
About Mark Otto
Mark Otto began his career in education
in 2003 as a special education teacher supporting students with diverse backgrounds and abilities in various educational settings. He is a trained facilitator through the School Reform Initiative and has facilitated various professional development opportunities for schools and districts throughout the United States with a particular focus on equity and access. Mark has been a steadfast advocate for all students and believes each child must have access to highly engaging, academically rigorous, and culturally relevant instruction. He earned his B.S in Elementary Education,
and M.S in Special Education from SUNY New Paltz as well as his M.S in Educational Leadership from New York University.
In 2005 Mark was one of the founding teachers at the Facing History School. Their mission is to develop active citizens through highly rigorous and engaging curriculum and instruction while advancing a culture of learning and a school community that honors each student’s unique identity and individual needs. The Facing History School continues to lead the way through its innovative project-based learning and integrated humanities curriculum in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves. In 2009, Mark became a school administrator at The Facing History School, after the founding Principal transitioned to a new role at NYCDOE. He worked in collaboration with parents, students and staff to envision the next phase of their journey by identifying areas of strength and opportunities for growth. In 2016, Mark opened the non-profit, Friends of Facing History School, and engaged a volunteer Board of Directors to raise the funds needed to provide: upgraded technology, professional development, educational school
trips, assistive technology, responsive classroom furniture, college scholarships for graduating seniors and much more.
In 2017, Mark was asked to lead the special education team at Brooklyn North Field Support Center serving over 150 schools and 28,000 students with disabilities. He was charged with re-structuring the systems and practices of the team, aligning their instructional work with the Division of Teaching and Learning, and reducing the referral rates for special education services, particularly for boys of color. During Mark’s tenure his team engaged in extensive DEIB work in partnership with the School Reform
Initiative, to analyze the systems that impact opportunities for equity and to implement structural and systemic change.
In 2019, Mark was promoted to the position of Executive Director for Teaching and Learning in the Office on Nonpublic Schools with an operating budget over $300,000,000. In this role he has implemented critical DEIB work in collaboration with his current team and in partnership with the NYU Metro Center. He supports over 900 religious and independent schools with both instructional and operational needs related to various programs funded through Title’s I, II, III, IV, CARES, and the Smart Schools Bond Act and supervises the implementation of Title I instruction for over 35,000 students.