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Final Show for Longtime Teachers
Kevin and Genia Allen-Schmid leaving Flathead High after 20 years for international school in Africa
Kevin Allen-Schmid directs members of the Flathead High School choir during their spring concert. - Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
The end of the school year can be bittersweet for students and faculty, with the knowledge of what was accomplished that year – friends made, papers written, lessons learned – contrasted with knowing that things will never be the same.

Those moments have a special resonance for Kevin and Eugenia “Genia” Allen-Schmid, who, after teaching choir and history, respectively, at Flathead High School for 20 years are heading on an adventure to teach at the St. Constantine International School in Tanzania, East Africa.

While the move offers the couple a chance to experience the larger world, it’s also par for the course for the Allen-Schmids. Both began their teaching careers overseas, with Genia starting in Germany and Kevin in Malaysia.

They also have prior experience in Tanzania, teaching at the International School Moshi from 1985 to 1989.

In fact, the biggest surprise move of their lives was to Kalispell, the Allen-Schmids said during an interview in the Flathead High choir room. They moved here in 1991 so Kevin could take the choir teacher and director job.

With two young children – daughter Katy and son Caleb – Genia took a couple years off teaching before returning in a part-time capacity at Flathead High, which eventually evolved to her current position as a history teacher there.

Kevin said he was surprised they stayed here as long as they did, considering their transitory nature prior to moving to Kalispell. But Genia said the community and the environment made it difficult to leave.

“We love the outdoors, and this is a healthy, beautiful location,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean they’ve been sedentary. For instance, the Allen-Schmids took an extended leave of absence when their kids were in early elementary school to live and teach in the Canary Islands.

It was important for their kids to know there was a whole world outside Montana, and outside America, they said. Both children learned the foundations for the Spanish language while abroad, and both use it in their adult lives.

Still, living and raising a family in a community meant putting down roots. And the Allen-Schmids have no intentions of putting down any more roots in Africa; the teaching contracts are for two years, Kevin said, just enough time for an adventure.

“We’re coming back (to Kalispell),” he said. “This is home.”

They plan on returning for the summers, Genia said, and both of their kids already have their plane tickets to Tanzania figured out so they can visit their parents.

Kevin Allen-Schmid directs members of the Flathead High School choir during their sprint concert, "I Am a Traveler." Allen-Schmid's began directing the choirs in 1991 and will be moving to Tanzania, East Africa, to teach at an international school. - Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon

The school the Allen-Schmids will teach at is a private academy with an internationally recognized curriculum and international testing standards. There are about 700 students, and 100 of them board there. About half of the students and teachers are African, and the other half consists of European and Asian teachers and students.

This allows for a generous mix of cultures, religions and ethnic diversity, Genia said, which is something they both look forward to. Both Genia and Kevin have attempted to bring their world experience into the classes they teach at Flathead High, with Genia starting up the Model United Nations and Kevin introducing students to international music.

His final choral concerts at Flathead took place on May 21, and the show, “I am a Trav’ler,” featured songs from Thai, German, South African, and other nationalities’ heritages. One of the shows was based on Kevin’s life migrations, from being born in Idaho to meeting Genia to moving to Kalispell and now heading back to Africa.

And while the Allen-Schmids are both excited and a bit saddened by their departure, so are their students. Members of Kevin’s senior class choraliers said “Mr. A” has provided a fun, safe environment for his choir members to learn and grow.

Both teachers have been inspirational, the students said, with much of it coming from sharing their experiences in other countries.

“They’ve really given us a wider view of the whole world,” said Samantha Treece.

The Allen-Schmids also worked together with their classes to bring a peace pole to the high school, which will stand in the school’s peace garden as a reminder to students to think outside themselves.

“The world is out there,” Kevin said.
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