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Katie Alvin joins Discovery Academy leadership

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High schoolers attend Discovery fulltime


On Oct. 1, Katie Alvin will join Head of School Nettie Breuner in leading the Big Sky Discovery Academy. Alvin, formerly the program outreach and education director for the Arts Council of Big Sky, will be responsible for fiduciary management, fundraising, hiring and management as Discovery’s executive director.

Breuner will continue as head of school, focusing on the private school’s educational operations.

Alvin earned a master’s in education from Western Governors University in 2018, her research focusing on the use of multidisciplinary approaches—especially the arts—to promote critical literacy and global awareness, particularly in rural and remote communities. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in soil science from Montana State University.

“Katie has a strong organizational management background, including fundraising, facility planning, program development and marketing,” the school’s founder and board president Karen Maybee said. “Additionally, she has a deep knowledge of Big Sky and a demonstrated history of working on educational initiatives.”

Alvin, who has lived in Big Sky for more than 25 years, is excited to lead the school with Breuner.

“Nettie and I have dreamed of teaming up for years,” Alvin said. “I feel like my entire personal and professional experience will be integrated in this position.”

Alvin’s skills in management will allow Breuner to focus on working with the teachers, students, families and curriculum of a growing school.

More than 50 students took classes at Discovery this summer, including 22 high school and middle school students. An unintended consequence of the school’s summer programming has been a demand for similar opportunities year-round.

For the first time, a handful of high schoolers will take all of their classes at Discovery Academy this schoolyear, using University of Nebraska High School content with live teacher support from Discovery’s math, English, science and language instructors.

If students stay with the program, they can graduate with a diploma from UNHS, an NCAA-certified, Montana Office of Public Instruction-registered, and Big Sky School District board-approved provider. This year, UNHS presented 150 students with diplomas and has a list of college acceptances that includes West Point, Columbia and Stanford universities.

“These courses aren’t easy,” Discovery math teacher Grace Ganoom said. “They are typical comprehensive high school courses, and because of the format, kids can’t move on until they’ve truly mastered every concept.”

“This blended approach to high school gives students not just control over their learning but also over their time,” Breuner added. “They can learn at their own pace, can schedule around jobs, sports, family travel, and other interests, and learn how to manage their time—a key success skill for life and certainly college.”

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