By Brandon Walker EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – When the school year begins this fall at the Big Sky School District, Dr. Marlo Mitchem, a familiar face, will step into a new role as the sixth through 12th grade principal. Mitchem will replace Alex Ide who left the district following the 2019-2020 school year.
Mitchem said she is very excited. “I love this community and I love working with the colleagues and the students here and so [I’m] just super excited to take on this challenge and an opportunity just to continue working with everybody here,” she said.
Mitchem has worked in the education field for 20 years, spending the last four years at BSSD as the International Baccalaureate program curriculum coordinator. She began her career in Beaverton, Oregon teaching at Southridge High School. Following her time in Oregon, she accepted positions internationally in Bahrain, Morocco, and Dreieich, Germany, before taking the curriculum coordinator position at BSSD.
“[I]t’s kind of the everyday experiences that … also really fill you up as an educator,” Mitchem said. “Just working with students and teachers and having a common purpose and a common goal of making our students’ lives better through education.”
As she inherits the role of sixth through 12th grade principal, Mitchem aims to further progress the “fantastic culture” she has experienced during her tenure at BSSD.
“[I’m excited] just to play a different role, but still a very important role in making sure that students are challenged and supported and that they are happy and excited about coming to school and faculty are too,” she said.
With many questions looming ahead of the school year, BSSD plans to provide an update on the plan regarding whether students will resume in person classes or continue remote learning at the July 21 school board meeting. Mitchem cited the uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic as likely being her greatest challenge as she assumes the helm at BSSD.
“That being said, I’m really confident with the school board and with Dr. [Dustin] Shipman and the whole community, that together we will navigate this,” Mitchem said. “As long as we kind of stay positive and responsive and are listening to the new information and data that’s coming in.”
If BSSD opts to take the online learning route at the beginning of the school year, Mitchem is confident in the district’s capabilities to continue effectively teaching students remotely.
“While I know there is like a larger national debate with online learning, I think that we’ve been very fortunate,” Mitchem said. “Now it’s not as perfect as teaching right, because it’s based on a lot of relationship between the teacher and the students and being in person is never replaceable by online.”
She remains excited and optimistic for what lies ahead regardless of the setting that classes will take place in this year.
“I’m just such a lifelong learner and so to be immersed in education as a career has been wonderful because I get to continue to learn from others,” she said.