Mark Westley '86
Educator blessed 'to do as much as I can as best I can'
By Megan Jonas
Over 27 years, Mark Westley '86 has influenced countless students through a wide-ranging teaching and coaching career. He hopes the biggest message he has conveyed to students is one of self-empowerment.
"With perseverance and determination," he says, "you can experience growth and success."
Westley's life is a testament to the power of perseverance. When he was 9 years old, he was the lone survivor of a tragic accidental fire that killed his brother and two cousins. Westley was burned over 50 percent of his body, on his face, hands and legs.
"Where I was burned, especially on my legs below my knees, I was burned down to the bone," Westley says. "Through the summer of my freshman year of high school, I was going back and forth to the children's hospital getting all kinds of skin grafts and surgeries to get me to where I was serviceable and able to function as best I can."
As a resident of the small southwest Washington town of Centralia and a member of the local Presbyterian church, Westley had a strong social circle to lean on during his adolescent years. "When my accident happened, literally everyone in town knew my story," he says. "In school, I didn't experience any ugliness like prejudice and name calling," he says, referring to having been disfigured in the fire.