Misti Vogle, principal of principles
Outside of Principal Misti Vogle's office at Richardton Taylor High School, construction continues on a new school for students in fourth through 12th grades.
"We're building a new school, mostly from structural damage to our old school," Vogle said. "What you see now, with the two levels, is actually the first phase. The second phase will be the music, art and tech building attached."
The former school building became dilapidated over the years, Vogle said.
"As you walk through the hallway, you can see the cracks in the foundation. We have heating tunnels that are underneath us that are caving in, so then the ground caves in with that," she said. "Actually you can see outside through some of the bricks, they separate constantly with the shuffling, so kids can actually see through the classroom to the outside. The light shines through."
She added, "Safety wise, instructional wise, it was just time to move forward."
The new academic space will have an open, modern aesthetic, Vogle said.
"It will be a lot of glass so you get more of a college setting. It's a little bit more relaxing for student learning," she said. "Also, more towards the one-to-one initiative where they have computer access in every classroom so they can have digital books and assignments online."
The first phase is expected to be completed in May, Vogle said.
"The T-section from the office and the lunchroom, all the way down to the classrooms, will come down and then the second phase will start and hopefully be done December or January of next year," she said. "We'll be using three-fourths of the building until that other fourth is completed."
Vogle is enjoying her third year as RTHS principal.
"I really enjoy the class B schools," she said. "They're a little bit smaller, where you know all of your students and the support from the community is fantastic."
It is the experience Vogle wanted when pursuing a role in administration.
"There's a lot of benefits of a small school," she said. "I do feel we meet a lot more of the students' needs, having small class sizes. We have a very well-rounded staff. They have multiple degrees in multiple areas with their specialties, where they can help the students, and the students get a little more attention that way."
The challenge of providing quality academics for students remains, though.
"It's still a really good challenge of having the goals of being the best school you can be," she said. "We're working on multiple things toward that goal academically and just as a culture, and providing what we can for the students in the area."
A priority for Vogle is creating a positive learning environment for her students.
"First and foremost is that the kids enjoy coming to school and they enjoy learning," she said. "Then obviously academics follows. I would love to say academics is first, but until you have that culture the academics and learning can't take place."
Students benefit from having such a learning environment, Vogle said.
"It's easier to learn," she said. "If you think about some of the things in your past, if you were comfortable in a situation or happier in a situation it was easier to learn in that situation, but if you were nervous or worried about something happening, it's a little harder."
Vogle enjoys being able to create those moments. For example, helping students to set up an elaborate "prom-posal."
"It's rewarding that the kids are having fun at the same time that they're having their learning experiences and gaining such skills to go beyond our doors," she said.
Creating such an environment, though, takes effort, Vogle said.
"We do some professional development for the staff and teachers," she said, "on positive influences, positive behaviors, interactions between each other, and how we carry that to our students. We've been focused on culture for quite a while."
For Vogle, it is a privilege to see her students prosper beyond the doors of RTHS.
"We try to keep in communication with all our students," she said. "Of course, it doesn't work with everyone, but just from milestones to big careers whatever it may be, you just want to continue to see that student's progress."
Vogle holds her students in high regard, describing them as "extremely hard working" and eager to "continue their own progress."
"Sometimes it seems in the digital world there's so many outside pressures they're dealing with, that sometimes it is harder to focus on their own individual learning," she said. "But that's a goal of ours, whether it's including technology, because they're so in tune with technology and digital learning, and trying to help them focus on what they need to do."