Stevie Schmitz, director of Master of Educational Leadership and Distance Education, 406.657.1134,
RMC Media Team, 406.657.1105,

Photo caption: New principals include (from left) Heather Jarrett, Maggie Talon, David Jameson, Dixie Seleg, Josh Cunningham, Leah Kutschback, Diana Bosive, Joe Gaylord, Tammy Hurley, and Nicole Hanson (missing: Lisa Creswell). 

New principals recommended by RMC Master of Educational Leadership program 

BILLINGS, July 1, 2014 – Twelve new educational leaders completed their RMC Master of Educational Leadership program work in June.

Director Stevie Schmitz said, “We’re so pleased that so many of our graduates have moved into [principals] jobs already.” Three from this year’s class have received immediate principalships from their districts: Tammy Hurley at Anaconda, Mont., middle school; David Jamison in Chester, Mont.; and Joe Gaylord in Marshall, Alaska. 

Principals are now more hands-on managers than the administrators as they used to be. The RMC program is all student-centered, so participants “help teachers to be better,” Schmitz said.

2014 M.Ed. Graduates

“We teach what it takes for students to prosper – every student, every day, every way,” Schmitz said. “Our grads help teachers become better teachers.”

Graduation was celebrated every day throughout the June capstone course, Schmitz said. The “how we know that you know” residential class follows a year of distance education, including online coursework mediated by extended discussion and field visits. The capstone course reinforces the learning assessment methods that principals use to guide their teachers. Students critiqued each other’s presentations of e-folios that demonstrated their mastery of educational leadership best practices and their growth in their internship as a principal.

Schmitz said, “Every year we get all excited about the new recruits that come in and then even more excited when they take away their perspective for the benefit of kids.”

Professors Schmitz and Jo Swain, former interim superintendent of Billings School District #2, teach the 11-month program, assisted by three former principals. Classes range from organizational change to leadership, supervision, community relationships, curriculum, and school law.

Final assessment of the new administrators leads to an institutional recommendation for Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) certification from the Rocky Mountain College program, which was lauded in 2014 by OPI. “Standards for licensure in Montana are stringent,” said Schmitz. Even out-of-state students receive Montana licensure.

The following students received a Master of Educational Leadership degree in 2014:

  • Diana Bosibori Bosire – Nairobi, Kenya
  • Lisa Kay Criswell – Hysham, Mont.
  • Joshua Adam Cunningham – Marshall, Alaska
  • Joseph Raymond Gaylord – Marshall, Alaska
  • Peter J. Halloran – Vado, N.M.
  • Nicole Hanson – Roundup, Mont.
  • Tammy Mattson Hurley – Anaconda, Mont.
  • David Dwight Jamison – Stanford, Mont.
  • Heather Lynn Jarrett – Springdale, Mont.
  • Leah Marie Kutschbach – Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Dixie Seleg – Rosebud, Mont.
  • Margaret Kathleen Tallon – Butte, Mont.

Former graduates pepper principalships in Billings. Dede Larson leads Washington Elementary, Tyler Blood is at Billings Senior High School, and Angie Gray at Billings West High School, for example. Andrea Myers was hired this year as executive director of the ACE (Alliance for Curriculum Enhancement) consortium, “which is a big deal,” Schmitz said. ACE improves student outcomes in 37 eastern Montana districts by helping to coordinate content area standards, common core curriculum resources, and professional development. 

For 2014-15, the Master of Educational Leadership program has enrolled its largest cohort ever of 26 students from across Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. All certified teachers, they will begin their program with a residential week at RMC in the first week of August, complete four courses each semester online through the academic year, complete an internship, then meet in June for their capstone course.