Stevie Schmitz, director of master of educational leadership and distance education, 406.657.1134,
RMC Media Team, 406.657.1105, 

RMC awarded 1.5 million dollar grant for developing turnaround school leaders

BILLINGS, September 24, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $1.5 million grant to RMC’s Master of Educational Leadership Program. The grant will help to strengthen RMC’s initiative to help recruit, select, train, place, support, and retain leaders for specific high-needs schools in Montana.  

“We are really excited to be starting this initiative,” said Dr. Stephanie “Stevie” Schmitz, director of the Master of Educational Leadership at RMC. “Through intensive coaching of turnaround leaders, RMC will assist schools in improving their current needs-improvement status.

Dr. Schmitz explained that this grant will help increase retention in School Improvement Grant (SIG) school districts and ultimately improve student achievement through increased training, support, and retention of turnaround school leaders with enhanced professional coaching.

“In a time where the needs are great and the resources are few, this grant will allow us at Rocky Mountain College the opportunity to train leaders who will make a difference in these schools.” Although the grant will end in three years, Dr. Schmitz believes that the impact will be long term, as the grant will allow time to put together the tools to make sustainability possible.

The grant goes into effect October 1, 2014, and allows RMC to partner with the following schools: Hays-Lodge Pole High School, Heart Butte High School, Poplar 7-8, Heart Butte 7-8, Poplar High School, Heart Butte Elementary, Box Elder High School, Pryor K-12, Lame Deer 7-8, Lame Deer High School, and Frazer High School. These schools in Montana meet the criterion of Tier I Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools in Montana.

These schools also share a similar demographic in student enrollment, which is predominantly American Indian. Dr. Schmitz explained that this grant will help RMC develop a digital turnaround database, which will help develop culturally appropriate achievement strategies for American Indian students and relevant “best practices” to aspiring leaders.

Another focus of grant efforts will include recruiting leaders from communities that have high-needs schools, particularly American Indian teachers, who will hopefully serve in schools on American Indian reservations in Montana. Financial incentives will also assist with retention efforts for these leaders.