John Marchino, recently selected as the new secondary principal for Mancos School District RE-6A, is set to begin his post in the upcoming school year.
He joins the district from Dolores, where he was serving as athletic director and dean of the secondary school.
Marchino spoke with The Journal this week about his career experiences and educational priorities going into the new job. This interview has been edited for clarity.
Where are you from?I was born and raised in Illinois, and moved out to Colorado, went to high school out in Longmont. I graduated from Greeley, Northern Colorado, with my bachelor’s in physical education and psychology, and moved down to Texas and taught in Texas for seven years, elementary school. And then I moved back to Colorado, taught middle school P.E. outside of Denver.
Then I went down to Colorado Springs to be an assistant principal at Challenger Middle School. Got my doctorate degree while I was going to school down there. I got my master’s at Stephen F. Austin in Texas, while I was in Texas. Moved to Durango 16 years ago. I was an assistant principal at Durango High School for six years, and a principal at Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary for six years. Worked out of the district office in Durango for a year.
And then I wanted to be principal of a bigger school and got a job at Hotchkiss K-8 School, about 350 kids Pre-K through eighth grade.
Did that for a few good years, and then wanted to get back down here, and I came over to Dolores this last year. I’m currently the athletic director and dean of students over here, and now I get to move into the principalship at the high school. So I’m excited.
What led you to apply for the Mancos principal position?A few years ago I was working on a district administrative license. And I went to the Mancos school board meetings a few times. I didn’t have to go to any of them, but I ended up going to two or three of them, because I really liked the vibe of the school district, and liked what they were doing. I’ve known Brian Hanson for 12 or 13, 14 years. I’ve liked what he’s been doing over here.
I’ve always heard great things about Mancos. And I just like the feeling of the school, the atmosphere. From what I’ve seen, the kids are great, academics are really good, teachers seem to be really fun and involved in their kids. They’ve got a lot of great things going on, and I just want to be a part of that, continue their greatness in the future.
How will your current job in Dolores translate to your new role in Mancos?Well, I’ve only been here for a year. Knowing the athletics, knowing the area. I’ve worked a lot with Heath Showalter, the athletic director over at Mancos, and he’s great, very well-organized and on top of things.
Just my knowledge of schools and experiences with instructional leadership, and classroom discipline, school discipline. And then one thing I gained over here is a little more knowledge about how the athletic programs work at the schools, to add to my knowledge of the special-ed programs, the gifted and talented programs, project-based learning.
I think I’ve got a pretty well-rounded background to be able to support our school and our students and parents in any way that they need supporting.
Mancos has been focusing a lot on project-based learning. Do you have any thoughts on how you’re going to move ahead with those initiatives?Well, first of all we’re doing a schoolwide training this summer. So I’ll be part of that training and working with the teachers on that. I know they’re already doing some project-based learning activities. But being a real support for them as they start planning and deciding how to go about emphasizing the academics and standards through project-based activities.
I’ve had a lot of experience over the years with that, working with alternative-ed programs, etcetera. But I think my main role with it is going to be to support the teachers, and help them develop plans and activities and provide the means for them to do what they want to do within their classrooms.
What are some of your other priorities going into this role?This is a school where things are moving in the right direction. They have a good plan, they’ve been working at it for a while, they’ve got real stability at the administrative level. So I don’t see coming in and making any sweeping changes.
What I see me doing is really building relationships with the staff and the students and the parents, and helping support the teachers as we move more into project-based learning.
Maybe getting some place-based learning in there as well, and just really getting to know the community and seeing where we are, and identifying areas of need and areas of strength, and continuing work on those strengths and supporting the areas of needs.
What are some of your favorite activities or hobbies?I’m an avid cyclist, I like to mountain bike and road ride. I also really enjoy golf. I read a lot, I listen to a lot of books on tape. I’m a sports fan, I like the Rockies and the Broncos.
I like to travel, I think traveling’s a great experience. And I’m a big skier.