Big Sky School District Board Chair Loren Bough cuts the ribbon alongside Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin County Executive Director Dave Magistrelli, commemorating a bold move for teacher housing in a community with rapidly escalating housing costs. PHOTO BY JANA BOUNDS

One small step with housing

One big step for teacher retention

The sun was shining on Wilson View on Oct. 30 during a day of celebration. Ophir Elementary School teachers John Hannahs and MacKenzie Caldwell were able to see their new home. They are two of the teachers who secured affordable housing by way of a trailblazing project between Big Sky School District (BSSD) and Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin Valley. With the first of two triplexes completed and the second dried-in and ready to be finished over the winter, the school district is making strides in confronting a housing crisis that has greatly impacted staffing.

Habitat for Humanity volunteers as well as community leaders gathered with Hannahs, Caldwell and school representatives to celebrate completion of the first phase of teacher housing. Dave Magistrelli, executive director for Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin Valley and Loren Bough, Big Sky School District board chair cut the ribbon signifying the landmark partnership. Bough addressed the crowd, noting that while it seemed like a radical idea when initially presented by BSSD Superintendent Dustin Shipman, it is a significant accomplishment for teacher retention and an overall benefit for the community.

According to Magistrelli, this effort may be duplicated with other school districts in the state. The effort was furthered by a slew of volunteers and groups including, but not limited to the Rotary Club of Big Sky, Haas Builders, school groups, the Big Sky Fire Department, Mel Crichton (Lead Volunteer), Laura Seyfang, Jeremy Harder (BBSD teacher), Jeanne Lange (BSSD parent), Woody Burt, Samantha Smith, Hussey Plumbing, Big Sky Ace Hardware, Alpine Customs Inc., TLC, Kenyon Noble, Diamond M Drilling, Firefly Electric, and Habitat for Humanity's Care-A-Vanners.

Magistrelli noted there is still more work to be done and more volunteers are needed.

The volunteer coordinator can be reached at

Read other coverage of the project at:

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