Goligoski returns to Mile High Middle School as principal
PRESCOTT - Mark Goligoski is returning to the hometown school where his education career began.
He grew up in Prescott and attended local schools before earning a bachelor's degree from Northern Arizona University.
His studies brought him back home where he student-taught at Prescott Mile High Middle School. In the fall of 2015, he'll become the middle school's principal as Mile High becomes the only seventh- and eighth-grade school in Prescott Unified School District - as Granite Mountain's grade range changes to fifth through sixth.
Before taking a job at Prescott High School 13 years ago, Goligoski worked at Bradshaw Middle School in Dewey.
"I got started at the middle school and I loved it," he said. "I wasn't looking to leave; I just had an opportunity here at the high school that I really enjoyed."
Goligoski taught civics and coached track and cross-country at the high school before stepping out of the classroom three years ago to become the Badgers' athletic director and dean of students.
"I had an incredible experience here, but definitely had a passion early on for working with middle-school students," he said. "I'm a great proponent of the middle-school concept."
Goligoski said his philosophy for middle school revolves around two key concepts: teaming and choice.
"You give teachers an opportunity to collaborate in teams, and that does amazing things for children," he said. "You can meet the broad spectrum of needs for kids by allowing your teachers to team."
He said middle schools also provide opportunities for students to explore elective areas of study and extracurricular activities.
On the academic front, Gologoski said the honors program developed at Granite Mountain will expand middle-schoolers' opportunities in core subjects.
"Now we have the numbers for it," he said of the increased enrollment expected at Mile High, adding he's hopeful that the program can be expanded into elective areas of study.
Citing his experience in starting the AP American Government course at Prescott High School, he said he is familiar in identifying honors program candidates and setting more rigorous standards for advanced courses.
"I'm looking to make sure every student is appropriately challenged," he said.
Both Granite Mountain and Mile High already teach with a curriculum based on STEAM (science and technology interpreted through engineering and the arts, all based in mathematical elements), and both schools will continue in that direction.
Goligoski said STEAM-based curriculum is already part of the planning and training in store for the coming academic year at Mile High. He said STEAM is an opportunity for teachers to use "a program that engages students."
While Mile High will go from three grades to two next year, the number of students in each grade level will go up.
While Goligoski noted a lot of students at Granite Mountain and Mile High already know each other, plans are moving forward to ease the transition of two schools coming together.
"It's exactly what we do every year at the high school," he said. "The challenge is going to be making Granite Mountain students comfortable on the Mile High campus."
Goligoski is more focused on the benefits of the new two-grade school.
"It gives us a change to expand our opportunities," he said. "We can provide more choice."
That means the school will keep and perhaps expand elective courses in fine arts like band, orchestra, choir and art.
The school's after-school program, funded by a 21st-Century Community Learning Centers grant, will continue as well. The program offers tutoring and enrichment programs after school and opens more opportunities for staff and community members to be involved in students' education.
"A lot of people are concerned that there will be all these gigantic changes," Goligoski said. "I look at it more that there's an opportunity to meld the best of what Mile High has done as well as the best of what Granite Mountain has done."
Athletics will see similar possibilities for expansion and more opportunities for students to participate, he said.
"When you combine the two schools, now you're looking at depth and good-size numbers," Goligoski said. "We have not only a great opportunity to up the quality of our athletics program, but to possibly offer other athletic options."
He said it's a natural fit with Granite Mountain's plans to move to an intramural athletics program.
Goligoski said Granite Mountain's program will give fifth- and sixth-graders exposure to more sports, and Mile High will give them the chance to decide where they want to excel.
"It's about the age where they start to hone in to where their talents are," he said. "I think it's a natural fit."
For students headed to Mile High Middle School next year, and their parents or guardians, the school is hosting an open house Monday, Feb. 2. Campus tours start at 5:30 p.m. and a presentation begins at 6 p.m. in Hendrix Auditorium.
Campus tours will begin at 5:30 pm. Visitors will then be invited to Hendrix Auditorium at 6:00 pm for a presentation on current plans for the 2015-16 school year.
Follow reporter Les Bowen on Twitter @NewsyLesBowen