Mr. Caudill Article


Mark Caudill

October 28, 2022 -- “Mr. Caudill!” echoes through the halls of Oakland Park Elementary School as students eagerly greet Principal Mark Caudill with fist bumps, smiles, and hugs. Caudill can be described as somewhat of a celebrity at his school; everywhere he turns, students are vying for his attention.

“The children love him – he’s a cheerleader and advocate for every single one of the students,” said Holly Gibbs, parent to an Oakland Park Kindergartener. 

Gibbs researched many schools and chose Oakland Park because of the great things she heard about the principal.

“I come from a family of teachers, so education is important to us,” Gibbs said. “My husband, son, and I adore Mr. Caudill.”

Mark CaudillCaudill grew up south of Columbus in a small town called Washington Courthouse. He met his 7th grade reading and English Language Arts teacher in that small town, who ignited his love of learning.

“Ms. Woodruff, that is her name now, was a huge inspiration to me,” Caudill said. “I was a pretty unruly kid, and she turned me around just by giving me positive comments that led to greater confidence in my writing. It was so simple, and yet, from then on, I had straight A’s and was on the honor roll, which carried into high school and beyond.”

When Caudill had to sign up for college field teaching experience, he knew exactly what classroom he wanted to grace with a surprise teaching visit.

“[Woodruff] knew she had someone coming from Wilmington college to teach her class, but she didn’t know who it was,” Caudill said. “I walked through the door, and when she saw it was me, she started crying and hugging me.”

Caudill is entering his 5th year as principal at Oakland Park and 9th year in the District. He studied early childhood education at Mount Vernon Nazarene and played on the collegiate baseball team; then he transferred to Wilmington College to finish his degree. Before becoming a principal, Caudill taught kindergarten, which is still his favorite grade level.

“I chose kindergarten and early childhood education because these are the kids that if we can make a real impact early, then we are going to put them on the right path,” Caudill said. 

As an elementary school principal, Caudill said he must always advocate for every child in his building. Even if a student gets in trouble or misses school a lot, he has to be someone that students and families can trust and depend on to ask for help.

“Being a principal means that you have to be the voice and the face of the school,” Caudill said. “You also have to be the leader of instruction and learning in the building. If I want students and teachers to put effort into learning and developing skills, that means that I have to do the same.”

Mark CaudillCaudill hopes he can help create as many positive and engaging memories with his students as Ms. Woodruff did with him.

“One year, I had to stand on the stage and perform Fornite dances in front of the whole school and parents,” Caudill said. “Last year, The Penny Harvest group wanted to dump green slime on me!”

The Penny Harvest Group is a group of third to fifth grade students who raise money for charity and is led by librarian Mary Eberlyn. Students interview different charities and then decide which one they want to donate to by voting. They also meet with Caudill to ask his permission to fundraise and pitch him the idea of what they want as a reward if they hit their goal. That usually involves Caudill. 

Teachers were called up one by one in their goggles and trash bags as students dumped a coffee cup filled with slime on them. Finally,  when it was Caudill’s turn, he knew something wasn’t right, but he realized it too late. Students and staff cheered and laughed as cold, clammy, and gross slime covered Caudill from head to toe. 

“One of the fourth graders last year snuck up behind me with a 5-gallon bucket of slime and dumped the entire bucket over my head,” Caudill said. “The kids loved it, and it’s one of my favorite memories!”

Caudill looks forward to many more entertaining years with the staff and students at Oakland Park.

“The kids and the relationship that we have with each individual kid is super special here,” Caudill said. “We love them and truly care about them. I’m very proud of our kids and their success.”