By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – From a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania to a classroom in Dubai, Scott Poloff moved around the world before recently landing in Big Sky. Poloff has been teaching for 26 years and he will now use his considerable experience to lead the Big Sky Discovery Academy as the new head of school.
Poloff grew up in Elderton, Pennsylvania, a town even smaller than Big Sky with a population of approximately 450 people. He went on to receive an undergraduate degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in elementary education and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Following his formal education, Poloff began his teaching career as a fourth-grade teacher in Gulf Breeze, Florida in 1995. Most recently, he worked as a head of school in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“I had never been in this part of the world, but this move for me was about my family,” Poloff said, adding that he looked for his next career step in places where he knew his parents would want to come when
“I chose Big Sky because it was a small town with a very strong sense of community,” he said. “It reminded me of the town where I grew up and of the small beach community of Gulf Breeze, which is where I started my teaching career.”
Poloff took the helm of the Discovery Academy on June 15 and said he is excited to be back in the states and to explore everything that Big Sky has to offer. In addition to engaging in the Big Sky community, Poloff has big plans for the academy.
“My number one goal is to make sure that we’re established in the community and to make sure that our parents and the community members understand exactly who we are as Discovery Academy,” he said. “It is to educate that we are a nonprofit that every penny that comes into the school is spent on the school and so that means that we’re constantly giving back to Big Sky as well.”
Poloff was hired by a committee consisting of two parents, two staff members and two board members.
“We are impressed with Scott’s commitment to student and staff development,” Big Sky Discovery Academy Board Chair Karen Maybee wrote in an email to EBS. “His leadership experience, which includes creating and executing strategic plans, implementing policies and procedures, and financial management, is exactly what Discovery needs to continue to grow and improve in a sustainable way. We are very excited to have someone who has the experience to take Discovery to the next level.”
One of the parents on the hiring committee, Andrew Schreiner, also expressed his excitement to have Scott on board the Discovery team.
“As part of the committee, I was so excited and proud to be a part of hiring Scott,” Schreiner wrote in an email. “His experience, attitude, and passion will take Discovery to new levels, and continue to build on Discovery’s past successes.”
Poloff emphasized his goals to keep Discovery Academy and its students involved in the Big Sky community. His first order of business is creating a high school volunteer program. This coming school year, as part of the program, students will be required to volunteer for 80 hours over the course of the school year.
Some of the benefits from the volunteer program, according to Poloff, will include new experiences, a better understanding of different career paths and giving back to the community. He also noted the importance of Discovery’s status as a nonprofit to him and to the community. “I wanted to be somewhere that I knew all of the school’s efforts and resources would go directly to the staff, students, and community,” said Poloff, who was a part of the leadership of a for-profit school for three years.
“I also love the vision and mission of the school,” he said. “I love that it provides families with a different option for their child’s education.”
He described Discovery as “a school for every child” where they are able to “Discover Your Potential” through small class sizes and personal instruction.
“We believe that we are giving every kid the chance to discover their potential and a different type of learning environment,” Poloff said.