Community Opinion

Upside Down Under

Amazing leadership qualities….. People who work tirelessly in Indian Country, don’t always get credit for what they do. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes, and unless the general public is right in the middle of it, chances are they won’t know about it.

By Marvin Baker

That’s the case with Marc Bluestone, the superintendent of schools in New Town. He has worked as an administrator in the school for several years, but he always goes above and beyond what any normal school superintendent would do. In fact, one of the things that Bluestone has done religiously is stay after school and work personally with students who would not otherwise get passing grades. He tutors them, helps them build up their self esteem that, in turn, provides motivation to come to school the next day.

Most everyone knows that graduation rates are lower on the rez, but Marc Bluestone has worked hard to reverse that trend. He teaches Indian tradition. He once said that today’s Indian youth get so wrapped up in technology or they come from broken homes that they tend to forget their proud heritage. So he takes it upon himself to make sure the kids have at least a starting point so they can become more involved in the Mandan Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.

Marc Bluestone has been a coach that, in and of itself, teaches them how to be motivated. He’s worked at youth camps, powwows and the local boys club. And when he’s not conducting a school board meeting or dealing with the growing pains of school construction, you’ll see him selling popcorn at the concession stand. His wife, Carolyn, was a principal in New Town and later took the superintendent’s job in Mandaree, another school on the rez with its own unique challenges.

Marc and Carolyn continue to be pillars in the growing community of New Town. In addition to all they’ve done for the MHA Nation, the Bluestones have raised a family that most people would envy. As an example, their son, Marc Jr., who is now a student at North Dakota State University, was a model high school student. He was always on the honor roll, was always willing to help other kids who were disadvantaged, and he was one of the better wrestlers to come out of the New Town Eagles program.

As an administrator, Superintendent Bluestone has dealt with some potentially catastrophic situations with calm. When students become unruly, it’s usually Bluestone who runs out of his office to break up a fight or settles things down with angry parents before it gets out of hand. A little more than a year ago, he had emergency action after a threat was called in to the suicide hotline. When Bluestone learned of the threat, he immediately put the elementary and high schools on lockdown and for the students and staff to shelter in place.

Tribal police were able to pinpoint where the call came from and later went to the classroom with the school resource officer and took a junior high student into custody for making the threat. It should also be noted that his integrity reflects on the teaching and coaching staff in New Town. They say in order to be successful, you should surround yourself with successful people. Marc Bluestone does that very well. When openings occur in this rapidly growing school district, he helps find the best of the best.

Ultimately, who gets hired is a school board decision, but there is no doubt Bluestone’s influence helps in making those decisions a little easier. He admits, however, that there are plenty of challenges on the rez. He’d like to see better graduation rates, fewer drop-outs, drugs eradicated and a more family-friendly atmosphere because a safe environment is a better learning environment. There is no question Marc Bluestone is a lead-by-example kind of individual.

He’s driven by the power and authority he has to make the reservation a better place to live, which in turn, provides a better opportunity for kids in Indian Country to become more successful. He’s also made the school a better place. New and modern with all kinds of programs, the kids won’t get bored. And there’s plenty to do after school because in some cases there are a few students who would rather be in school than at home. Mr. Bluestone gets along well with the school board, the staff, the students, the community at large and the news media. This man has worked too long and too hard to see failure as an option. He is an incredible public servant.