Kristi Jacobs

Kristi Jacobs is the new superintendent of Anderson School.

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Kristi Jacobs, the new superintendent of Anderson School, wanted to be a teacher since she was in fourth grade.

Her aunts are teachers, her cousins are teachers and her grandmother was a teacher.

“It’s in my blood,” Jacobs said.

After teaching for 16 years, including eight years at Bozeman’s Hawthorne School, she was unanimously chosen last week by the Anderson School Board to be the elementary district’s new superintendent.

She starts July 1, leading the school of 200 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“I’m incredibly honored and excited about the opportunity,” said Jacobs, 48. Leaving Hawthorne School is bittersweet, she said, but she’s always wanted to be a principal. To head an “amazing school like Anderson,” she said, is “a dream come true.”

Chosen from four finalists, Jacobs was selected for her experience, leadership qualities and knowledge of the Gallatin Valley and Anderson School community, Anderson trustees wrote in a press release.

Anderson School, west of Bozeman on Cottonwood Road, south of Huffine, is starting a major $6.9 million building upgrade. Voters last fall passed a construction bond to build a new classroom wing to replace an old wing in bad shape that will be torn down.

“It’s an exciting time,” Jacobs said. “It shows the parents’ and community’s support.”

Superintendent Scott McDowell, who shepherded the bond issue, resigned to move to Jackson, Wyoming.

On top of the upheaval of construction, Anderson School must also navigate the coronavirus pandemic. All Montana public schools were closed by the governor in March to help control spread of the virus. Students and teachers had to learn to do remote and online learning.

The school’s leadership team will meet in mid-July to prepare plans for the fall, Jacobs said. They will work with the Gallatin City-County Health Department and follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Safety will be the No. 1 priority, she said.

“It’s a crazy, unprecedented time,” Jacobs said. “I just want to help Anderson continue to provide a quality education.”

Anderson may be best known locally for its annual Halloween Haunted House, which raises money for the eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., and the elaborate musicals it puts on every year at the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture. Jacobs said those traditions will continue.

“I’m a large supporter of the arts in education,” she said.

Jacobs grew up in Hinsdale, a suburb of Chicago, and attended the University of Kansas, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in special education. She taught sixth grade in Fairfax County, Virginia, and fourth and fifth grades with the Los Angeles Unified School District. At Hawthorne School she taught second to fifth grades and special education.

The school board reported Jacobs holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and is pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership and superintendent’s endorsement through the University of Montana. She also holds a Montana administrator’s license with a K-12 principal endorsement.

Jacobs said she and her husband, Bruce, have two children, a daughter in college and a son finishing high school. The family decided to move in 2010 from Los Angeles to Bozeman for a better lifestyle.

“We love to ski, love the outdoors,” she said. “We wanted to have a community as well.”

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Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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