On July 1, 2022, Rachel Baughman Bachmeier ’12 became the principal at West Fargo High School in North Dakota. This milestone was noted at Marietta College as she became the first graduate who earned the Teacher Leadership Certificate to become a principal.
“I’m entering this as a marathon and not a sprint. I love this building and see myself here long-term. There are some big changes happening at this high school and I want to be here to guide everybody through that process.”
Rachel knows how much impact a strong mentor can have on your life.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Tanya Judd. I hope every student leaves with a mentor like her. I could reach out to her for coaching. She has been with me every step of the way.”
Judd was an Education Professor during Rachel’s time on campus, and she took the lead in developing the Teacher Leadership Certificate. Now she is the Chair of the Education Department.
The lessons Rachel learned at Marietta not only sparked her interest in teaching, but also education administration.
“My interest in administration grew even more when I became a classroom teacher on a reservation. I loved being in the classroom but wanted to increase my ability to make a change for kids.”
After graduating, Rachel taught eighth-grade language arts on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. She also met her husband, Levi, during the three-commitment with Teach for America. She remained in Mission, South Dakota, for three years as the English Language Arts Teacher for eighth graders in the Todd County School District, where 99 percent of the students were Native American.
“All of my students were Lakota and faced immense challenges of poverty, alcoholism and drug abuse, but were, and continue to be, inspirational sources of bravery and strength of spirit. I never would have fully embraced this incredible opportunity without the justice-oriented mindset I built during my time at Marietta, especially through the critical thinking and reflection promoted by the McDonough Leadership Center. Dr. (James) O’Donnell’s Native American history class also inspired me to search for teaching jobs on Native American reservations, pockets of rural poverty often forgotten.”
Rachel has worked with West Fargo Public Schools since August 2016. She started as a Social Studies Teacher for English Learner students and served two years as the Assistant Principal before her promotion to the top spot at the high school.
Now she is using her experience to embolden those around her.
“Every person in the building should feel empowered to be a leader. One of the coolest things about being an administrator is you are able to help others do that. I strive to give a voice to our teachers and students. I have really enjoyed working with the departments that I serve. It’s all about the people and taking a team leadership approach helps us move the needle in a positive way.”
Originally from Kent, Ohio, Rachel has adjusted to living in the Central Time Zone. Well, almost.
“The winters are still tough, but Fargo has so many great communities. We love the downtown street festivals. I am very happy that I landed here. My husband is from here and we have made this our home.”
Next up for Rachel is working on her Ed.D. at the University of North Dakota.
“This could open up some other doors for me. Maybe teaching part-time at a college or university, but I’m keeping my feet grounded in this job.”