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Blast from the Past
Natalie Marsh, Class 33

Natalie was born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan which is about 90 miles north of Detroit.  She attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and studied to be a teacher.  She also went on to earn Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Eastern Michigan University.  More recently in 2017, she earned a master’s degree in Museum Studies online through the prestigious Johns Hopkins University based in Baltimore, Maryland. 


After not seeing the sun for weeks on end she said enough is enough and in 2001 she accepted her first teaching job in Coolidge, Arizona.  While she gives all the love to teachers, she was not sure that classroom teaching was what she wanted to do long term.  At about that same time, her husband Steve, who was born in Canada, got a new job in with a Canadian company, and they had the opportunity to move to beautiful Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  They decided to take that opportunity and ended up staying there for 14 years.  


It was in Calgary that Natalie found a new path within education, and that was within the friendly confines of museums.  Her first job literally spanned both worlds as she taught students as they toured the Glenbow Museum in Calgary on field trips.  She knew she had found her lane.  Eventually other opportunities presented themselves to Natalie while she was in Canada.  One was in the Calgary City Government and then their Canadian Music Center which she helped open.  But the desire for the warmth of Arizona, and the chance to be nearer to her family compelled them to move back to Scottsdale in 2016. 


Natalie told us that when the Scottsdale Arts job opened up here, it really was a natural fit for her with all the experiences she had acquired in Calgary.  But more importantly it would allow her to be the teacher she was always meant to be.  It is that specialized brand of teaching that uses experiential curriculum to get the point home.  Steve still works for the same company and is able to work remotely, and Natalie loves her new job.


We were so intrigued by her mission as the Director of Learning and Innovation at the Scottsdale Arts organization.  Most everyone has heard of STEM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  Now educators are adding another discipline to that program and that is the arts.  When you add that “a” to STEM you get STEAM, and that is one of the focuses of Natalie’s educational efforts.  She knows that students need that technical training to bolster our society through innovations, but she is also convinced that an appreciation of the arts can build that ability to think outside the box when solving problems.  One of the most satisfying parts of her job is to see measurable results from adding these specialized arts education programs to the curriculum of our schools at all levels.


Natalie was blessed to meet and be mentored by Class 3 graduate Diana Smith.  Diana introduced her to Scottsdale Leadership and she took it all in and ran with it.  She is very active in putting together the Arts Day for the new classes and has really gone out of her way to build a culture of cross promotion between the Scottsdale business community and the arts.  And just like Diana Smith did for her, she is introducing those talented young men and woman to organizations like Scottsdale Leadership in order to help our community grow and thrive.


Natalie has a warm smile and infectious laugh.  She loves to hang out with her family and friends.  She and husband Steve love doing new things together which includes hitting the open road in their Recreational Vehicle.  She also enjoys doing yoga every morning at home via YouTube.  We had a such a good time comparing notes with her on all the cool things we can experience in Scottsdale and the Valley.


Of course, there always challenges in our society and in life.  That certainly is the case for students these days.  But when you can put together beautiful art experiences like Natalie and her team can do for her students, you can rightfully feel those problems can be turned around. Art is definitely for everyone.  But that does not make it easy.  Natalie and her colleagues are constantly looking for new ways to inspire our students and all of us for that matter.  Her enthusiasm opens the doors, and the beauty of art walks right in.  Natalie really gets it, and we are really happy she is part of our Scottsdale Leadership family.

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