Comanche Middle School.

Comanche Middle School has a new assistant principal with quite an intriguing background.

Rachael Pitchford, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp, says she found her passion for educating children after she started working at the same daycare her children attended. After that, she decided she would go to school to become a teacher.

“I finished college in a very non-traditional way, just like so many on our team within USD443/SKACD 613,” Pitchford said in a press release. “While degrees are important to gain knowledge, I am also thankful for the education I received through the U.S. military and the teaching experiences I have had across the country, most importantly here in Dodge City.”

Pitchford landed her first teaching position in 2007 in Alabama, then in 2011 moved to Dodge City to teach special education at the middle school level.

“I have travelled many places in my relatively short life, and Dodge City has a strong community bond,” she said.  “I was welcomed here and very quickly this community became my home.”

Last year, Pitchford accepted a position as instructional coach for USD 443 while also coaching cheer and track for both the middle school and high school levels. After some time working as an instructional coach, Pitchford felt inclined to seek a leadership position within the district, which led her to apply for assistant principal at CMS.

“It allows me the opportunity to make a positive change within our community. Dodge City embraced me when I moved here 7 years ago and I feel that this position allows me to pay some of that back,” she said in a press release. “Being an instructional coach first was a fabulous experience. It allowed me to see things at a district level, work with curriculum at all levels and get to know the educational community that I am proud to represent.”

One challenge that Pitchford feels comes with this position as assistant principal is assuring that all students get what they need as individuals.

“This could range from language support, deeper curriculum knowledge, to social and behavioral support,” she explained. “The talent lies in doing that within limited budgets, staffing and a myriad of issues that can make that seem impossible. However, I see this amazing staff do it every year in spite of that.”

Though Pitchford feels that there are challenges ahead, principal Marc Woofter is completely confident that she will do just fine.

“Rachael brings to CMS a vast array of experience both in and outside of education,” he said in a press release. “She is also a very respected veteran that was active in the Marines. We are looking forward to leaning on her expertise to continue the excellence at CMS.”

Pitchford replaces Martha Mendoza who recently accepted a position as principal of Beeson Elementary.

“I am honored to not only be a staff member of USD 443, but I am especially honored to be a leader at Comanche Middle School,” said Pitchford. “I am very excited about the relationships and challenges of the year and will continuously work to be an effective, positive supporter of our mission here.”

To contact the writer of this story, email egarcia@dodgeglobe.com.