Evergreen excellence

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The Evergreen School District board of trustees was recognized as one of two “Honor School Boards of the Year” by the Montana Association of School Superintendents during the Montana Conference of Education Leadership. Pictured left to right: East Evergreen Elementary Principal Shaun Forrest; Evergreen Special Services Director Mary Meehan; Evergreen School District board of trustees chairwoman Tamara Williams; school board trustee Paul Wigle; Evergreen Junior High Principal Kim Anderson; Crossroads Program Principal Linda Hall and Evergreen Junior High Assistant Principal Steve Mayhue. (Photos provided by the School Administrators of Montana)

The Evergreen School Board was recognized as one of two “Honor School Boards of the Year” by the Montana Association of School Superintendents.

The association selects two outstanding school boards each year that represent excellence in providing dedicated and ethical service on behalf of Montana students. The award also recognizes accomplishments in the areas of board policy, infrastructure for learning and teaching and innovative educational programs.

St. Regis was also given the award.

Trustees serving on the Evergreen School Board are Chairwoman Tamara Williams, Vice-chairman Dave Lowitz, Jim Waggener, Jon Wilson and Paul Wigle.

Williams and Wigle accepted the award on behalf of the Evergreen board at the annual Montana Conference of Education Leadership held in the fall. Williams said it was an honor to be recognized among peers who are all volunteers.

“We’re all volunteering and giving of our time because we want to do what’s right by our students,” Williams said.

The school board, nominated by Evergreen School Superintendent Laurie Barron, was noted for its efforts in the areas of strategic planning and continuous improvement, student achievement and college/career readiness and a commitment to investing in technology through a digital learning plan.

The board has also completed board governance training to learn best practices and board members have attended state and national conferences to help them move “toward their vision to be a district that equips students with the skills, resources and resiliency to adapt, thrive and contribute to our rapidly changing world,” according to a press release.

Recently, the district added a “College, Career, and Citizen Ready Summary,” under school board guidance, to share expectations that students be well-prepared, well-rounded, productive citizens who give back to their community.

“I believe our strength as a board is a focus on student achievement and making sure we’ve got all the strategies in place for our teachers and students to make sure they are achievers,” Williams said, in addition to lifelong learners.

Getting there means investing in professional development and training to ensure teachers are equipped to support students in the best way possible according to Williams.

She noted that culture and climate not only a focus in schools, but expands into the community — “reaching out to our Evergreen constituents.”

The board’s successes may also be in part to the longevity of trustees with each trustee having served between 13 to 20 years.

“There is a good learning curve to how schools operate,” Williams said. “We have the fundamental groundwork done. Of course, we’re always learning, always evolving, but the fundamentals are in place and we are able to focus on achievement.”

Accolades also went to Barron, who was the recipient of the G.V. Erickson Award through the School Administrators of Montana.

This award is given to a member of the School Administrators of Montana who “has made the greatest contribution to the betterment of education in Montana.”

Barron has led Evergreen School District as superintendent for the past six years.

Power School District Superintendent Loren Dunk nominated Barron for the award, noting “she has dedicated countless hours to the entire state’s educational community through her service.”

Barron’s contributions to public education are “extensive and far-reaching,” according to a press release. Barron has held various leadership roles to support public education. She has served as president of the Montana Association of School Superintendents and is current president of the School Administrators of Montana.

Barron has a Master of Education in Administration and Supervision degree and a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership degree. She is also a National Board-certified teacher, starting her career in education 22 years ago teaching English.

Barron has published two books and numerous education articles. She is a national speaker, providing motivation and professional learning to educators through promoting student engagement, shared leadership and data-driven decision making.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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