It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Mark Biedron, co-founder of The Willow School. Mark was a visionary and a true inspiration as an educational leader, from his creation of The Willow School to his work at the New Jersey Board of Education. Above all, he believed in teaching children the importance of ethical relationships with each other and the natural world.
Mark was larger than life. Always with a twinkle in his eye, he was charming, eloquent, dedicated, and loyal. Anyone who had the honor of meeting him was inspired to be a better citizen and a better human because of his words and his actions. His dedication to Willow was unwavering. Mark’s presence and support have had an enormous impact on every student, teacher, and administrator at Willow. You could find him on campus plowing the roads after every snowstorm and frequently meeting with the administration to support and improve the sustainable, state-of-the-art buildings and campus that he created. He always made time for our students as well. Year after year, you would find Mark walking and talking with middle schoolers on topics ranging from the Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center to the water system, always encouraging our students to ask questions and share their ideas. He had a special gift for connecting with children. Mark spoke to them as equals and made them believe in their power to effect positive change.
Last year, in an interview for Information Matrix, Mark said, “We had no idea what impact [founding Willow] would have on our community, our students, and our parents. When we see parents that come to us and say, ‘Your school has changed my student’s life,’ that means everything.” There are hundreds of students and families who feel this way. While we work on plans to formally honor Mark and express our deep admiration and appreciation for all that he has done, please join us in sharing our love and support with Mark’s family. We will share plans for a more formal ceremony as soon as we are able.
Mark will never be forgotten, only dearly missed. His guidance lives on through the Virtues Program and our Living Building, the HWNC, which are embodiments of his dream to teach others about the importance of ethical relationships with each other and the natural world.