Mary Louise Mack '73 (Educational Administration)

Tough love for tough kids

Education was always a part of Sac State alumnus Mary Louise Mack’s life. The recently retired principal of Carson Creek High School, part of the Sacramento County Juvenile Courts School Program, made it her life’s work to educate troubled young people in the Sacramento area for nearly 40 years.

As principal, Mack expected a lot from herself, as well as the teachers.

“We worked with teens who had committed all sorts of crimes, and it was vital to show them there was a better way of life than the one they had grown up knowing. Our goal was to have them leave the school with more than they came in with. “We wanted to educate the whole child, not only in terms of book smarts but also in manners, dress and how they expressed themselves. They needed these skills to get a job and succeed.”

Mack strove to instill self-worth in all her students.

“It was important to let them know that someone cared about them, because they didn’t always get that at home,” Mack says. “Those children are at such a formidable age. And no matter how dastardly their deeds, children need to know they’re loved. That gives them the confidence to accomplish something worthwhile.”

Mack, who had a bachelor’s degree in business education and a minor in English, began teaching English and other subjects in the Juvenile Hall girls’ school in the early 1960s.

“After so many years teaching in Juvenile Hall, the administrators asked me to become the vice principal of the girls’ school. I knew that if, in a budget crunch, they had to downsize that I would be the first to go because I didn’t have an advanced degree in education. So I began taking classes at Sacramento State to obtain my master of arts in school administration.”

While attending the University, Mack was impressed with the high standards the professors set for their students.

“I was lucky to have consistently studied in an environment where the educational bar was set high, and I was able to become a better student and educator because of it. I enjoyed my experience at Sacramento State and was able to make a difference in children’s lives as a school administrator because of it.”

Since her retirement in 2004 after almost 20 years with Carson Creek High—39 and a half years total with the Sacramento County Office of Education—Mack has kept busy building her dream home and making an occasional foray into the classroom as a test monitor.

“I haven’t solidified m y plans for the future yet,” she says. “I considered substitute teaching for a short time but decided against that. But whatever it is I decide to do, I’ll be there 100 percent for the kids who need me.”

This article was originally published in the Spring  2007 edition of Sac State Magazine.