From Teaching to Policy Advising
Levi Bachmeier ’14 believes that all students deserve a quality education.
After graduation, he followed his values to a teaching position on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota where he worked to help students excel on the football field and improve their reading abilities in the classroom. His heightened understanding of the importance of providing all students equal access to quality education now informs his work in a new role: as a policy advisor for North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.
Bachmeier’s versatility began while he was at Concordia. The West Fargo native majored in social studies education while minoring in coaching. When he wasn’t studying, Bachmeier was a pole vaulter and captain of track and field, three-year resident assistant, and Student Government Association president his senior year.
While he says his involvements made it difficult to leave Concordia, it also gave him a platform to build his career from. After Bachmeier graduated, he became a teacher at Crazy Horse School in Wanblee, S.D., through Teach for America, believing that this was the best route for him to make a difference while growing in his field.
“To me, Teach for America seemed like the perfect blend of opportunity to develop my understanding of education policy, while simultaneously allowing me to do what I went to school to do, and that was to teach,” Bachmeier says. “Plus, I was deeply moved by the mission, the idea that all children deserve the opportunity to experience a quality education. Every student in America should reflect on the quality of education they received, think about those who don’t receive that quality of education, and examine the differences and the barriers that prevent that.”
For two years at Crazy Horse School, Bachmeier taught social studies, geography and government to grades 9-12, and coached football and track and field.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have worked as a Teach for America corps member,” Bachmeier says. “Not only did it deepen my understanding of a lot of the issues facing education today, but it helped me understand and experience a totally different worldview. I was able to do that only seven hours away from my hometown. The opportunity to learn about different cultures and to contribute is right here in our backyard.”
Near the end of his second year at Crazy Horse School, Bachmeier was awarded a fellowship working for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee as an education policy analyst fellow. He was particularly interested in working with Burgum.
“I’ve been a long-time admirer of the work Gov. Burgum has done in the Fargo community, having grown up in West Fargo,” Bachmeier says.
Following his role model, Bachmeier reached out to individuals working on the campaign to share his admiration for the governor and his desire to help out wherever he could. A month before the June 14 primary election, a position opened up for Bachmeier. He continued working for the governor through the primary and general election, and then applied for the policy advisor position in Bismarck.
Now as a policy advisor, each day presents Bachmeier with new tasks and challenges to work on.
“One day is looking at the implementation plan of Every Student Succeeds Act and how the state of North Dakota can be a leader in developing accountability plans that push and promote 21st century education for students,” Bachmeier says. “Another day, I’m in Southern Morton County as part of the diplomatic outreach team during the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy working with representatives from the camp to try to identify areas for collaboration related to cleaning up the camp.”
While Bachmeier juggles a variety of tasks, he is able to connect his teaching experiences to his current position.
“To be able combine my role in the governor’s office to my experiences on Pine Ridge, working with some members of the community that I had met during my time teaching, was incredible,” Bachmeier says. “It’s been a tremendous opportunity to just fully participate in the legislative processes. There is not a typical day, but one of the things I love most about my job is there are areas that I am super passionate about – education, policy, strengthening relations with between the tribe and the state – and that’s what I get to spend a lot of my time doing. That’s something I am immensely grateful for.”
Bachmeier credits his time at Concordia for helping him succeed at these two distinctly different jobs since graduating.
“I think Concordia is a special place that challenges everyone to find their passion and not only figure out how to be responsibly engaged, but recognize the obligation that we have to help create a better world,” Bachmeier says.