Machallister is the man

At their March 12 meeting, the Bayfield School District Board of Education approved the recommendation of Superintendent Leon Hanhardt to hire Will Machallister to take over as BIS principal beginning in the fall of 2024.

Machallister is the former assistant principal at the school, and has served as its interim principal since January. He will continue in that position for the remainder of this school year, and step into the permanent role for the 2024-25 school year.

“We were excited to recommend Will Machallister to the board for approval, and very confident in his ability to lead BIS moving forward. Our selection committee felt that, in addition to his experience with the Bayfield school district, Will also brings the qualifications to be a great leader for our school,” Hanhardt said.

Machallister was one of three finalists pulled from the field of applicants and interviewed for the position, and Hanhardt said he was very pleased with the hiring process and the work done by staff and community members alike in guiding the districts’ search for a new leader at BIS.

“Our Human Resources Director, Sam Hogue, coordinated a professional process, and we really want to thank the volunteers that served on our selection committees,” Hanhardt said.

Machallister indicated that he is excited to continue the work he has already begun at the school, and he expressed the lofty hope that he can lead BIS into becoming a school of choice for this area.

I want our story — whether it be student connection, our teacher support network or our academic achievement — to be so great that people move to the area to be a part of it…and people from other schools visit to see what they can take back and implement within their own schools,” Machallister expressed.

Will was born near Glenwood Springs, but grew up on the central coast of California, where he met his wife, Nicole. They moved to southwest Colorado in 2007 so Machallister could attend the teacher prep program at Fort Lewis College.

He was raised by a single parent, and is the youngest of three brothers. He’s also the first in his family to attend college. He received his degree from FLC in 2010 before going on to receive a Master’s degree from Concordia University, and later attended CSU Global to earn his principal license.

Machallister graduated from high school in 2002, and started working with kids a few years later when he took a job with an after-school program in 2005. After getting his degree from Fort Lewis, Will’s first job was teaching a fourth-grade class on the Navajo reservation, but that position presented some challenges for he and his family.

“I was driving an hour and a half each way, and wanted to get a teaching job closer to home,” Machallister said.

Fortunately, Will was able to secure a teaching position in Ignacio in 2012. He was a fourth-grade teacher there and also coached middle school football before beginning his career as an administrator by becoming an assistant principal there.

Machallister took a teaching job in Bayfield in 2020, not long after the COVID pandemic began, and continued coaching middle school football here. He became the assistant principal at BIS in 2022, and served in that capacity until taking on the Interim Principal tag earlier this year.

Machallister’s family has become deeply rooted in the community and its schools. Nicole is a school counselor at Bayfield Middle School, and their son, Jaxson, is a sixth-grader in the same building. The couple’s daughter, Rylee Mae, is a fifth-grader and spends her weekdays at BIS with Will.

Machallister Family

“As a family, we love to travel and camp, and outside of work I enjoy anything football related, as well as fishing, hiking and hunting,” Machallister said, indicating that any day he can spend hiking with a bow on his back is a “good day.”

When becoming a teacher, the new Bayfield Intermediate School principal said he was inspired by the author Rafe Esquith, who helped him see how much positive impact a teacher can have on students from diverse backgrounds. He also credits his mother for helping him become a caring and devoted adult who wants to make an impact in the lives of his students.

I believe education is a child's vehicle to a better life,” Machallister explained. “I think relationships are vital in student success, and I believe for all students to be successful they must feel three things — safe, welcome and wanted. When kids feel these things at school and in the classroom, they are willing to engage, try hard and persevere.”

Machallister believes that he is an example of what can happen when adults invest in children and help guide them to a brighter future, and he admits that in his wildest dreams a school or library will bear his name someday because of the tremendous impact he hopes to make on the students and families that he serves.

“I am proud and honored to represent our school, and show a kid can come from the bottom of the barrel and still make it out and impact other's lives in a meaningful way,” Machallister beamed.