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Profile spotlight: Mr. Howell’s Gonzaga experience

Mr.+Howell+in+his+classroom.
Mr. Howell in his classroom.

Every day, Mr. Mark Howell arrives at school at 5 a.m. When he arrives and walks into the Cantwell building, Gonzaga is quiet and dark. Mr. Howell walks from the desolate garage into his classroom, with no one else in sight. As the only person on campus, Mr. Howell grades work and plans lessons until others begin to arrive at 7:30 a.m.

Mr. Howell is one of the most integral members of the Gonzaga community. 

A math and computer science teacher, Mr. Mark Howell has been a teacher at Gonzaga for 43 years and is a Gonzaga alumnus himself, a member of the class of 1973.

If you are a Gonzaga student, especially an upperclassmen, you have likely met or had Mr. Howell as a teacher. For those who do not know him, he is a very competent, passionate and excited teacher. He always comes to class with an attitude that inspires and motivates his students to learn. 

Mr. Howell generally has an A day where he teaches three classes and a B day where he teaches two classes. Outside of the classroom, Mr. Howell is a teacher of many hobbies and interests. On both days, he can be found in the gym lifting weights. 

“Lifting is close to me. It makes me feel good and maintain my health. I try to lift every day. I formed that habit 20 years ago and have been consistent ever since,” Mr. Howell said.

In addition to the gym, Mr. Howell spends time moderating the rocketry, astronomy and national security clubs. He made it clear that each of the clubs are thriving and use their meetings effectively. The national security club has been on a roll lately and has “had some interesting guests, including a recent visit from the former senator and defense secretary Chuck Hagel,” Mr. Howell said. 

For Mr. Howell, clubs are opportunities to bring students and staff together, united in common interests.

Mr. Howell loves to teach because of the bond he can forge with students.  

“The students are the best part of this place for me. They bring life, energy and goodness into every day that I am here. They excite me about being a teacher,” Mr. Howell said. 

Students contribute to the unparalleled joy that Mr. Howell experiences as a teacher. 

“There is no better feeling than seeing a student lighting up when they understand something, and you see a lot of that here. That is my favorite part of being a teacher. That is what I live for,” Mr. Howell said. 

His students reciprocate the feeling that Mr. Howell confers them understanding. 

“I have had two years with Mr. Howell. He’s the best. I love Mr. Howell. He helps me see concepts in ways I hadn’t thought of before. He’s a very effective teacher,” said Tim Lis, Gonzaga senior and moderator of the Eagles for Democracy club. 

In this fashion, students think that Mr. Howell’s expertise is what enables their learning. 

“If you have any questions he has pure mastery over any subject that he teaches. He will be able to answer anything. He knows every aspect of everything he teaches and is a teenager at heart,” said Jack Deye, Gonzaga senior and another Mr. Howell math protégé. 

Mr Howell has dedicated himself to education because, for him, happiness is what he does at Gonzaga.  

Furthermore, Mr. Howell has embraced the faith side of the Gonzaga community, too. In his classes, he reads, reflects on and prays over the Gospel every day to bring this aspect of his faith life to his students. This routine started in response to “the horror show of the pandemic.” 

In his time at Gonzaga, three of Mr. Howell’s biggest inspirations were Fr. Horace McKenna, SJ, Fr. John Woodward, SJ, and Fr. Donald Ward, SJ. 

“As far as teaching is concerned, my teachers have inspired me the most,” Mr. Howell said.

Mr. Howell aims to emulate the vital components of Fr. Woodward’s teaching style, passion and competence. 

“The attributes I try to take from are being able to love the subject and communicate this love to the students,” Mr. Howell said. 

When it comes to spirituality, Fr. Ward, SJ, played a large role in Mr. Howell’s faith life. 

“He is a Jesuit who taught me a lot about the service and indirectly about the spirit. It was very formative for me,” Mr. Howell said.

Ultimately, Mr. Howell has found a home here and wants students to know.

“I love my job. I love working here and I hope that my students see that. I hope that they love it too,” Mr. Howell said. 

Mr. Howell lives and breathes Gonzaga, making him the epitome of what it means to be a Gonzaga man.

 

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