RMCNews – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Meet Michael Armstrong. He has a weekend home in Manitou Springs, is married to a dental hygienist, has two children who graduated from Union College, walks to work, and loves working in education. Oh, did we mention? He is the new VP of academics at Mile High Academy, his fourth school in the Adventist education system. In Colorado, he was the head teacher and principal of Springs Adventist Academy in Colorado Springs from 2013 – 2017. Prior to returning to Colorado, he served as principal of Oceanside Adventist Elementary, overseeing 140 students and eight teachers in San Diego County.
Armstrong returned to RMC education after his wife, tiring of California, nudged him to move back to their home in Colorado. He accepted the role of VP of academics because he saw his skill set was needed at MHA. “When I came in February [for the job interview], and spent a day with the teachers, it was clear that my skills in leadership and mentoring were needed.”
Teacher job satisfaction is critical to any school’s future, Armstrong stated. “New teachers call and ask a professional colleague, ‘Should I go after this position? Should I apply?’ You must have happy, engaged teachers. Everything stems from that.”
Adventist education has many benefits–low student-teacher ratio, students creating lifelong relationships, and a Christ-centered curriculum. Retention rates from eighth grade to ninth grade is vital for Armstrong. “We have to somehow create a school culture where kids get it, they identify with it, they love it, and they want to stick with us through twelfth grade. These days, some kids are burning out by seventh grade. We must train students in leadership and character.”
Adventist education shouldn’t be run just as a business, but more as educational outreach to the community. “Children get more from our school than just an education. It’s the Christian component. It leads into the community through outreach, engagement, and strong memories,” Armstrong commented.
The health of Adventist schools is tied directly to the health of the local church Armstrong believes. “I feel strongly that if the schools aren’t doing well, then our churches aren’t doing well, and vice versa.”
Armstrong sees that growing constituent churches is the key to building a strong future for MHA. “I think if we were able to resonate more effectively with more churches, we’d have more [constituent churches]. Building this will require strong relationships between churches and the school. The Denver area is primed for growth in this area as pastors and the Mile High team have been growing together already this year.”
One of Armstrong’s main goals is to contribute to a continued positive culture growth at Mile High Academy. “It has to start with a supportive teacher environment where the teachers feel like they have been empowered. This will lead to student engagement.”
–Photo by Rajmund Dabrowski