Chris Noel

 Chris Noel

Senior Manager, Teaching
and Learning Department


Chris began her career as a high school science teacher and leverages her classroom experience to support education across a wide variety contexts. Outside of her work in K – 12 classrooms Chris has worked for Universities, the Montana Office of Public Instruction, and for-profit national Ed Tech organizations in roles such as Science Instructional Coordinator, Science Assessment Specialist, Instructional Coach, Undergraduate and Graduate Instructor, Senior Manager of Service Operations, Director of Learning and Development, Director of Product Operations, and Data Operations Manager. She enjoys working with school leaders and other stakeholders to better understand best practices in instruction and data use across all grade levels, subject areas, and school types. She graduated from Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Neuroscience, from the University of Texas at Arlington with an M.Ed. in Education, and is ABD from the University of Wisconsin in Madison for a PhD in Educational Psychology with a focus in Learning Sciences and a minor in quantitative methods in education. Chris has two sons, one who attends the University of Wisconsin and one who attends Helena High School. She lives in Helena with her partner, three dogs, and a cat.

406-444-2765

Michelle McCarthy

 Michelle McCarthy

Science Instructional
Coordinator


August 2015 to present. 

Michelle is working with the state’s science education leaders to support science instruction in Montana schools. Michelle was a middle school science, social studies, and math teacher at Bridger Schools. She also served as their RtI and Test Coordinator. She has also been a ½ time principal/teacher in a three-room schoolhouse. As an adjunct online faculty instructor at MSU-Billings, she taught undergraduate and graduate K-8 & 5-12 Science Methods courses and was involved as a teacher leader in the Partnership to Reform Inquiry Science in Montana (PRISM) grant for six years. She earned her Bachelor of Science Education, SPED minor, and Master of Education at MSU-Billings. She worked on her Curriculum and Instruction Doctorate at MSU-Bozeman but fell short of the doctorate without completing her dissertation.

406-444-3537

Stephanie Swigart

 Stephanie Swigart

English Language Arts and
Literacy Coordinator


Stephanie’s main focus at OPI is in championing ELA-Literacy standards-based best practices to meet the diverse needs of all students, families, and schools. She is committed to building teacher-leader networks and expanding collaboration across the state. In addition to serving Montana teachers and students with the Montana Association of Educators for the English Language Arts (MATELA), she also collaborates with the State Coordinators of ELA across the U.S. to provide high-quality professional development and standards-based best practices to Montana classrooms. As a Montana Writing Project graduate and liaison, she is passionate about arts integration in the ELA classroom and is working with the Montana Teacher Leaders in the Arts to develop arts integration best practices to boost student success. Since becoming a teacher in 2010, Stephanie has worked in both urban and rural high school and middle school ELA classrooms. She earned her B.A. and Secondary English Licensure from the University of Montana and returned as a graduate T.A. College Writing instructor while earning her M.A. in English Teaching. She loves dystopian science fiction literature and hiking Montana’s trails with her English teacher husband, daughter, and two dogs

406-444-0736


Sonja Whitford

 Sonja Whitford

Math Instructional
Coordinator


Sonja Whitford joined the OPI as Mathematics Instructional Coordinator in September of 2021. Prior to that, she was an educator for 27 years. Most recently, she was an Instructional Coach for seven years at the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School in Anchorage, Alaska. Prior to that, she was an elementary classroom teacher in a variety of locations and grade levels in Wyoming, including an isolated one-room school, as well as rural and urban settings. Presently, as the Mathematics Instructional Coordinator, she is honored to be a part of the exciting things going on regarding mathematics instruction in Montana.

406-444-0736