Mark Honeyman ’85, challenges his West Hills Middle School students to, “Be crazy enough to believe you can change the world and then go ahead and do it.”
He credits Marygrove for helping him incorporate that belief into his own life. Mark spent his first year of college at Michigan State University lost in a sea of 45,000 students, eventually dropping out, with diminished prospects. Marygrove was the one college that was willing to take a chance on him. He has repaid that trust by becoming an outstanding educator, as evidenced by the tributes of his peers, students and administrators.
He also credits one of his professors, Lynn Schaefer, for suggesting that he obtain teacher certification to augment his double major of music and English. “With my first education class, Adolescent Psychology, I knew I had found my mission,” says Mark. Mark speaks further about the many leadership opportunities and inspiring instruction at Marygrove. He says he loved the cultural diversity, the richness and intimacy, the nurturing and challenging that altered the course of his life.
Mark teaches English to every eighth grade student in his Bloomfield Hills school, about 130 each year. According to Edward Bretzlaff, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, hundreds of his students have won writing awards in local, state, national and international contests, earning more than $35,000 in savings bonds since 2002. Through their reading and research, Mark helps develop empathy and caring among the students, who have collected 7,000-plus books to distribute to those in need. His classes also contributed $3,000 for medical relief in Ethiopia after learning of the terrible conditions there. Students, moved to discover the extent of modern-day human slavery in Africa and Asia as well as in the United States, raised more than $13,000—the largest non-corporate contribution ever made to Free the Slaves, a Washington, D.C.-based anti-slavery organization. One student wrote a play, staged it and brought in $2,000 toward the fund. Other students created a community forum presenting poems, speeches, songs and art, and earned another $6,000.
For 26 years Mark has devoted himself to engaging his Bloomfield Hills students in learning-- the first ten years at Andover High School and the balance at West Hills Middle School. His wife, Mary (Amore) Honeyman, is also a valued member of the West Hills eighth grade core academic team, teaching state-mandated units such as health, technology and careers.
Due, in part, to his leadership, West Hills became the first International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme school in Michigan. Mark has been an ongoing member of the steering committee. Some components include: communication, community service and international mindedness. Through class projects, his students put their knowledge of literature and world events into action. Outside the classroom, Mark and Mary formed a club—Count Me In—to reduce bullying and increase understanding among students.
His students are required to read 20 books a year from at least eight different genres to avoid having them focus only on teen series’ books. Mark prides himself on being available to his students, before and after school, during lunch hour and by email. He spends about two hours each night answering email queries and concerns from students current and past. It is no surprise that Mark was named Oakland County Middle School Teacher of the Year in 2004.
While at Andover High School, Mark chaired the CARE team, an organization that provided food and other essentials to needy families. As a director of nine musicals and plays, and as forensics coach, Mark inspired his students to perform at award-winning levels, including seven state forensics championships.
As a college student, Mark sang with Marygrove’s chorale and chamber singers. He was president of the chorale during their inaugural choir tour to Ireland and Wales. Mark has been a conductor and soloist with multiple church choral groups. He taught choral music for several years at West Hills but music education is no longer a part of his course load.
Mark served as chair of the Marygrove Education Advisory Committee, a volunteer organization formed to strengthen the College’s teacher preparation program.
He is also a volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and mentors a seventh grade boy. Mark brings him to sporting events, movies, helps with homework and offers friendship and counsel wherever possible.
Mary and Mark spend summers catching up with family and home projects and they fit in travel that will enhance their teaching—having visiting four continents and about 15 countries throughout their 19 year marriage.