We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Sarah Levy and Mark Parmet and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Sarah & Mark, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
Basically it’s that we saw a need for things to be done a little differently. We tried working with existing schools to shift the model and the thinking and then realized (Mark more quickly than Sarah) that shifting a culture and way of doing things is really hard. Starting something new is really hard also, but in a different way. And we were both ready to try the other kind of hard. Also, quite honestly, we were very fortunate to find each other as partners because we have a very similar educational philosophy and work ethic. It’s really hard to work with people when you don’t have these key pieces in place, so that was a part of it — having more control over the people who were on the bus. Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
We’ve actually each led totally different lives, but it eventually brought us together. Mark grew up in Topeka, KS and started out in the business word. Working in both Colorado and California, he grew bored and was looking for something more, so a friend suggested education. He left his high-paying job for a minimum wage assistant position and was hooked. After teaching for a decade, he wanted to move into school leadership, so he earned his master’s in the field. Sarah grew up in Colorado Springs, CO and also started out in the business world. She worked for Neiman Marcus for a very brief time before she realized it wasn’t personally fulfilling. Education was something she fell into while she figured out what she wanted to do with her life…one year became five…and then she got a master’s degree in the field…and then a doctorate. So apparently education is what she’s doing. Through these journeys, we’ve learned a few things: 1. It’s okay to want to love what you do. We spend a lot of hours working, and if you’re miserable, that’s not a great way to live. 2. Having colleagues and thought partners who can push you is essential. 3. Not everyone is going to like your working or leadership style. And that’s okay. Also, something people don’t usually consider is that schools, ultimately, are businesses. They have customer and a budget and products. The fact that we both have business backgrounds really helps us run the school in a highly effective way. Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh my gosh! We’re both HUGE fans of Colorado! Sarah is a Colorado native, and Mark’s lived here the last 20 years. Our itinerary wouldn’t be for everyone as we’d spend most of the time in the mountains hiking. Maybe Boulder. Make Crested Butte. Maybe Summit County. Maybe we’d branch a little farther out and go with Ouray. Maybe, because we have a week, we’d hit up all of the above. And if it’s on the way, a stop by the Sand Dunes, for sure. Also, if someone were interested, The Aspen Ideas Festival and/or Music Festival would be a great stop as well. If Mark had his way, we’d never stop for food — just ingest protein bars. Sarah would make sure to pack something — probably a variety of salads and healthy baked goods. Also, there’s nothing quite like taking in a baseball game at Coors Field on a summer night, so that would have to be included somewhere. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Can we dedicate this shoutout to each other? We know that sounds cheesy, but we’ve found this to be a relatively lonely space, and we’re so grateful to have each other to keep us going. Also, if we really want to get down to it, starting a school was Mark’s idea, and he convinced Sarah to do it — so, really, we can dedicate it to Mark.
Other: Please make sure to include BOTH Dr. Sarah Levy and Mark Parmet