MaryPat Lechich Talks Teaching, Learning & Creating ‘the Best Experience Possible’

Written by Meg Seitz · Photography by Julia Fay

MaryPat Lechich is a real gem.

Warm and welcoming, spunky and sweet, Lechich is the Community Manager for Skillpop Charlotte. As Founder Haley Bohon’s first hire for the booming Charlotte brand, Lechich was hired in April 2016 as Class Manager. What started as a two-night-a-week gig, grew quickly and fully – a lot because of Charlotte’s growing demand for the popular and intimate, hands-on, skill-based classes, but also because Lechich herself was ready, willing, able, and eager to grow into the role.

“I felt like it was what I needed to feel like a whole, balanced person again,” she shares candidly. {Continued below}

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington graduate originally moved to Charlotte when she accepted a role with Teach for America (TFA) at Statesville Road Elementary School. She started with third grade before transitioning to second grade; she then worked as a second grade, academic interventionalist – a role she loved.

“Those were easily the hardest three years of my life,” she says. “But, I loved them.”

“I felt like it was what I needed to feel like a whole, balanced person again,”

In her third year with TFA, Lechich and her husband, Michael, welcomed their first child; she left teaching after that year to stay home with her daughter, Caroline, who is now two years old – ‘two going on 13’ as Lechich describes. As much as she loved the time at home with her family, she sensed she needed and wanted to get back into the working world; she was craving that whole, balanced feeling again.

“Right around the time when I was starting to feel like that, I randomly opened the Charlotte Agenda newsletter, and I saw a job posting for a part-time teacher liaison with Skillpop,” Lechich recalls. “I didn’t know what [Skillpop] was, but I definitely wanted to be a part of it.”

As it turns out the liaison role between the Skillpop brand, its teachers, and its students was the perfect role for Lechich who thrived earlier in her career as a teacher and intermediary between teachers, families, and students.

The responsibility grew quickly for Lechich. She started by managing classes a couple evenings a week to fielding customer service requests; today, she serves as the go-to, point person for Skillpop’s teachers as well as the party responsible for building partnerships with venues.

“I like to work with teachers, so working with them regularly to make sure their [respective] class is a slam dunk for not only them, but also their students is the perfect role for me,” she says.

Lechich is quick to note with an honest laugh that teaching a Skillpop class designed for adults isn’t all that different from teaching kids.

“Really, it’s about the connections made,” she notes. “Really cool connections between student-to-student or student-to-teacher; it’s neat.”

“My experience in the classroom is that it’s all about making sure people – kids, adults, whomever – are learning and we are creating the best experience possible; it’s really about knowing how best people learn and appreciating that everyone is curious,” she notes. “Knowing that now I can help the Charlotte community achieve that is just awesome.”

When Lechich joined the Skillpop team over a year and a half ago, Skillpop’s Bohon was working remotely from Hygge’s Third Ward location; the growing team was then functioning at that Hygge location for occasional, daytime meetings and then classes at night. But, as the team continued to grow, they found themselves working from Bohon’s home – stashing lunch leftovers in her refrigerator or storing class materials on her kitchen table. That is, until December 1, 2016.

“I remember being so excited on December 1 because that’s when Garrett opened Hygge’s Remount Road location,” Lechich recalls. “We were so ready to have a home base.”

Skillpop’s HQ at Hygge West not only cut down on the amount of time the team spent running all over the QC, but also made it more possible to host more Skillpop classes in a single location.

“From a scheduling standpoint, it’s easy for me to be able to schedule classes at Remount,” she says. “And, in turn, it’s been really neat to show people Hygge and introduce them to a space they didn’t know was here for them.”

Skillpop’s success has been consistently strong. As one of those who knows the brand best, Lechich speaks to the two types of success she’s proudest of.

“I love hearing two types of Skillpop stories,” she shares. “Stories of friendship, like ‘I met my best friend in a Skillpop class,’ or stories of how people have applied Skillpop skills to better their lives; stories like, ‘I came to a Skillpop class, and I bought a house or I started a business or I figured out how to start a podcast.’”

She continues to gush – this time though over how amazed she is as to what people learn in a Skillpop class, and then how they take it and run with it. The teacher in her gushes over another gem of an insight.

“Really, it’s about the connections made,” she notes. “Really cool connections between student-to-student or student-to-teacher; it’s neat.”

Meet the Author: Meg Seitz is the Founder and Managing Creative Partner of toth shop, an agency with one goal: Elevate your brand’s content through powerful writing, creativity, and strategy. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor with Queens University and Founding Partner of the children’s book series, “Bea is for Business”.

She’s an English major with an MBA, so she can talk Homer’s “The Odyssey” just as well as she can talk sunk costs – though she’d much prefer the former.

Meet the photographer: Hi, nice to meet you! I’m Julia. I’m my happiest self when my camera is in hand and I’m taking in this big beautiful world around me! People are my jam and the fact that this job brings so many wonderful people into my life is pretty special.

I grew up performing mostly in front of the camera! Singing, acting, comedy improv – anything on a stage or in front of a lens. The roles began to switch as I entered my freshman year of college and found a creative outlet through photography. My first “real” shoot was when an engaged friend of mine asked me to photograph her and her fiancé. Within moments of getting started, I knew that this was it. Telling peoples love stories, that is what I’m supposed to do! I shot my first wedding at nineteen, and well you know what they say..the rest is history! We’ve been together ever since 🙂