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Morehouse Principles Meet Dater’s Principal

While many believe college is primarily about academics, the most valuable lesson for Dater Montessori Assistant Principal Mark Gumm during his time at college wasn't found in textbooks or lectures. It was the profound art of making a lasting impact, especially on his young African-American male students, that became his true educational journey.

As an alumnus of Morehouse College, Gumm carries with him the values and principles instilled during his time at this historically Black institution. 

“Students will come to my room because of a discipline issue, and we saw in the data that most of those students are actually African American,” said Gumm. “At Moorehouse, we are taught a philosophy that we’ve been pouring into our students: Well-read, well-spoken, well-balanced, well-traveled and well-dressed. So I implement some aspect of this philosophy with all the students walking through my door.” 

One of the most critical aspects of Gumm's role at Dater Montessori is serving as a relatable and inspirational figure for African-American male students. He understands the unique challenges these students may face and actively works to provide the support and guidance needed to overcome these hurdles.

“I'm from Chicago and I moved to Atlanta, so long story short, I've been through a lot of trauma early on in my life. Being able to think about who really inspired me, it was the deacons in the church and it was those Black male mentors that helped me. If I can be that for somebody else, why not? It’s fantastic.”

Rather than relying on punitive measures, Gumm employs restorative practices to resolve conflicts and behavioral issues among students. Through open dialogue, active listening and facilitated discussions, he empowers students to understand the consequences of their actions and make amends when necessary.

“These connections with our kids matter at such an early age. I love that I can work with them in these elementary grades because I can build that bond early and restoratively. Every kid needs a moment, right? Sometimes there are judgments or different stigmas that come because of how a student looks. Sometimes we have to remind our teachers to think about that and how we can support students outside of discipline.” 

Gumm has been with the district for a little more than two years and has already seen the growth in his students. He said he is often stopped by parents on their trips out to the school and complimented for the strong work he does in keeping students in the classroom and on the right track.