Strength of character

Cindy Mau may be retiring, but she has no plans to be the kind of grandma who wiles away her days in a rocking chair.

Mau and her husband, Les Mau, will be moving to Alexandria, Minn., to be closer to their children and grandchildren. They have four children and five grandchildren, with a sixth grandchild on the way.

Mau wants to have a house down the street from her grandchildren so they can see her frequently as they are growing up and she can be a big part of their lives.

Mau also has plans to continue working with youth in Minnesota. One of her greatest passions is character education and she believes a new approach is required that involves teaching young people how to be leaders and to stand up to other kids who are bullying peers. She is young to retire and believes she has at least another decade of work with youth ahead of her in some capacity.

Mau helped launch the Minot Public School District’s Character Counts! program and has championed the importance of instilling good character in children over the years. She is proud to have encouraged lots of community service projects and a culture in the middle school that placed high importance on displaying the “pillars” of good character.

“My favorite pillar is caring,” said Mau, who wants to teach her students to take care of one another.

Mau, who grew up in Minot, got her start in the Minot school district as a psychology teacher in 1978. She later served as a school counselor and, as part of a mentorship program to develop promising educators within the district into school principals, was eventually hired as an assistant principal. She has been head principal at Jim Hill since the 2008-2009 school year.

Mau said she has loved her job and has always enjoyed working with young teenagers.

“They are delightful,” said Mau, who enjoys the humor of this age group and their changing personalities.

While early adolescents might be seen as challenging by some, Mau said she has found that building a good relationship with the kids makes all the difference.

“If you have a positive relationship with a middle level kid, they’ll do anything for you,” said Mau.

Mau is firm, but fair with the kids and they know that she cares about them, said Mau.

One of the highlights of her career as a principal was the sister school relationship Jim Hill had with Whitsunday Anglican School in Mackay, Australia. Students from the school traveled to Minot and stayed with host families and attended Jim Hill for a couple of weeks and Minot students and parents made a trip to Mackay. The relationship came about after Mau met the head of the Australian school at a conference.

The connection was good for students because it helped them make global connections, said Mau. Middle school students don’t often get to travel, but Jim Hill students did.

Mau also is passionate about doing church mission work. She and her family have done missions as part of the Assembly of God Church’s mission.

As she gets ready to leave Jim Hill, Mau said she knows she will miss the wonderful students and staff she’s worked with over the years.

“It’s been a great place to work,” she said.