Volume XLII                              November 2019

No. 290

In This Issue...

  1. MCASE President Message 
  2. SAM Executive Director Message
  3. Awards Open for Nominations
  4. SAM Awards Presented at MCEL
  5. Montana Principals Conference 2020
  6. Cybersecurity - CoSN  
  7. Release of GREAT 2019
  8. SAM Welcomes New Business Partners 


Upcoming Conferences,   Meetings, & Events

January 26-28: Montana Principals Conference - Fairmont

February 19-21:  MCEC Conference - Missoula

March 23-24: MASS/METAtechEd Conference - Helena

June 11-12: SAM Board Meeting and Delegate Assembly (Note date change) - Helena

July 27-29, 2020:  SAM Administrators Institute 2020 - Helena

** View the full SAM Calendar**   

Thank you to this month's featured Business Partners! 

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SAM Leadership
Peter Hamilton
Dale Olinger
President Elect
Laurie Barron
Past President
Jake Haynes
Justin Helvik
President Elect
Shawn Hendrickson
Vice President
Peter Hamilton
Past President
Craig Crawford
Shelley Andres
President Elect
Nicole Trahan
Vice President
Pam Meier
Past President
Marlin Lewis
Barb Droessler
SAM Representatives
Mike Perry
Casey Klasna
President Elect
Cal Ketchum
Past President
Rick Duncan
Federal Relations Coordinator
Michelle Halberg
Cathy Maloney
Brian Norwood
SAM Office
Kirk Miller
Executive Director
Gary Wagner
Director of Operations, Membership & Finances
Kim Scofield
Director of Member Services & Professional Learning




Words Matter  

by Michelle Halberg, MCASE President

Recently my husband and I attended a community event in which the presenter was discussing his dislike of the word wilderness. From his perspective, the term implied the need to tame, conform or manage. He wondered aloud about the impact of exchanging the word nature for wilderness. He shared his hope that the word nature would bring about thoughts of awe, appreciation, reverence, respect. As he spoke the image I held with the word wilderness changed, my heart rate slowed and I felt peaceful.

Driving home, I began thinking about the words student— and special education student in particular. “Do these words also conjure thoughts of conformity, management and the need to tame?” I wondered, would exchanging the word child for student give us permission to let go of the limitations of our roles as teacher and student? Could we then instead be amazed at the diversity of these learners, explorers, and creators? If I were to say Autistic child versus a child with Autism, would it keep the emphasis on the child? I’d like to think that this simple change of word choice could help us influence our school environments and support a culture of acceptanceamazement, joy and maybe even a love of school. 

Thank heavens it was a short ride home, as I could have continued to spin out of control! What if I said colleague instead of parentadministrator, or teacher? Could this influence how we approach decision making during special education meetings? Would everyone have a seat at the table and an equal voice no matter the role? What if.... 

In our roles as educational leaders, there are many things we can’t seem to predict, control, or plan. But we can choose our words—and words matter.

Michelle Halberg
MCASE President
                 "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." -Mother Teresa

Engage in Effective Communication … Help Your Community Understand the Value of Your School

by Kirk Miller, SAM Executive Director

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While working to develop meaningful opportunities for professional development for education leaders for supporting their work to educate our children, I keep returning to a common strategy that appears to be absolutely critical to the success of all endeavors … effective community engagement to be sure your community understands the value of its schools!  The strategies involved in effective communication with your community are necessary in order to build the trust of your community. We need to be persistent in telling the story that you are the educators, the experts for providing educational services, that meet the needs of the students in your community.  This trust, once built and established over time, will develop the partnership for learning that great schools have with their community, parents, businesses, interested individuals, retirees, nay-sayers, and the whole crew! 

As you are aware, our society has become used to customization of products and services that meet individual needs.  The use of technology has expanded this ability to communicate and customize for individuals.  The expectations of individuals (community members and our kids) are that all products and services can be delivered with the essence of customization.  Our schools across the nation were not built and developed to customize each individual situation, but rather to provide our children with the ability to think, evaluate, problem solve, and create a successful life for themselves and be a life-long learner (these are my bold assumptions of our system) in accomplishing this.  Our educators, have not until recently, focused on the training required for a world requiring customization.  Our public schools have been tremendously successful in developing an educated citizenry in the United States, but our new challenge is to transform the system of education to meet the expectations of customization.  In Montana, we are well underway in creating this transformation, and all of us working together are recognizing the need for new training and strategies for personalizing learning, where the standards for achievement are held constant and the former constants – time, place, delivery – are variables.  This system transformation and training of educators will be key to the success of our public school system into the future.  The “why” of making this transformation is the driving force in developing the “how” to make it happen.  I believe Montana is in an outstanding place to be able to make this happen. 

The first step in making that happen (the “How”), in my mind, is to vividly describe for your community, all that you provide for the children in your schools.  Part of that description must include how incredibly valuable the education of our children is to the future success of our community, state and nation, is not be left to the expertise of anyone other than those in your very school who work day in and day out to make this happen.  To do this you must enlist the energy, enthusiasm, and expertise of your entire school team.  I suggest, that as school leaders, you can influence this transformation and gain the trust of your community by making sure that everyone who works in your environment (everyone – board members, administrators, teachers, paras, custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, and all support volunteers), knows the “bold story” of what your team is accomplishing for students.  Then, charge your team (all of them) with making sure they can tell this bold story to anyone they encounter – friends, neighbors, in the grocery check-out line, in the hardware store and coffee shop.  In my experience in five Montana school districts of varying size, from east to west, this concept of your team educating the community about your schools' successes and challenges, does in fact build trust with your community.

Please use the resources available to you to assist in implementing the thoughts I have outlined.  Recently GREAT 2019 (Great Work of Montana’s Public Schools, volume VII), describing a comprehensive vision for the future success of Montana’s public schools and establishing a clear road map to achieve this vision, was released (by the MT-PEC partners) for your use as a template you can use to tell your school story.  Those who attended MCEL and heard keynote speaker and award-winning champion of public education, Jamie Vollmer, learned about strategies for engaging your community and telling the great story about your school.  Expect to see more information about your access to those strategies in the coming month. Please use these resources as you plan your future community engagement strategies. 

The MT-PEC partners collaborated to develop a unified professional development series for school district governance teams on key topics related to funding, flexibility, efficiency, safety and security, community ownership and local control.  The goal is to ensure a broad and common understanding of the full extent of the obligations and authority granted to Montana’s public schools and to contribute to a body of knowledge that will enhance our ability to develop the full potential of each child in every public school in Montana.  Please use these resources as you tell your story in your community.

Thanks for your work to help engage your community in the great work you are doing in your schools!  You can see from my perspective, your success in gaining the trust of your community is the real difference maker in accomplishing what you intend to make happen in educating the students in your community.  Best to you in the days ahead!

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Montana Principals Conference 2020

January 26-28 

Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

Sunday, January 26:

  • Keynote:  Ryan Sheehy - Be the One for Kids 

Monday, January 27:

  • Keynote: Adam Welcome Kids Deserve It
  • MAEMSP and MASSP Business Meetings
  • Breakout Sessions
  • Leader to Leader Event
  • Cornhole Tournament
  • Awards Banquet with Ugly Sweater Contest
  • Live Music by Intermission 

Tuesday, January 28:

  • Breakout Sessions
  • Closing Speaker: Dr. Andy JacksRefusing to Fail

Click HERE for more information.

Register HERE!

Release of GREAT 2019

The MT-PEC partners have worked together to prepare GREAT 2019 - The Great Work of Montana's Public Schools, Volume VII, released at MCEL in October. School board members and school superintendents will be receiving a hard copy of this great tool in the mail in the near future. You can always print a usable copy from the link provided. Our hope is that you will use this publication to engage your community in the story about the great opportunities your schools provide for the students in your community. Now is a great time to tell your story of the rich and engaging environment your school provides for your community! 

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Awards Open for Nominations

Please consider nominating someone you would like to recognize for their outstanding service to the education of Montana's children.   MAEMSP:  The following 2020 MAEMSP awards are now open for nominations.  Nomination forms must be completed by December 20, 2019.  Find out more about each award and nominate/apply by clicking 2020 MAEMSP Awards.
  • National Distinguished Principal Award
  • Adrian Langstaff Award
  • Friends of Education Award
  • Aspiring Principal Scholarship Award
  • NAESP Conference Incentive Scholarship Award Appreciation Award
MASSP:  The following 2020 MASSP awards are now open for nominations.  Nomination forms must be completed by December 20, 2019.  Find out more about each award and nominate/apply by clicking 2020 MASSP Awards.
  • Future Administrators Scholarship
  • Community Partner
  • Principal of the Year
  • Conference Incentive Award
MCASE:  The following 2020 MCASE awards are now open for nominations.  Nomination forms must be completed by January 10, 2020.  Find out more about each award and nominate/apply by clicking 2020 MCASE Awards.
  • Special Education Director
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Regular Education Teacher

SAM Awards Presented at MCEL 

SAM is proud to announce the award recipients who were recognized at the MCEL Opening Ceremony on October 17th in Billings.  SAM congratulates all award winners!

  • 2019 G.V. Erickson Award - Dr. Darlene Schottle:  Dr. Schottle is the Chairperson of the Montana Board of Public Ed and serves as a provider for SAM LPLP.  Click HERE for more information about Dr. Schottle and the G.V. Erickson Award.  
  • MASS Superintendent of the Year - Les Meyer:  Les is the superintendent of Fairfield Public Schools.  He is eligible for the National Superintendent of the Year Award and will be honored at the AASA National Conference on Education in San Diego in February 2020.  Click HERE to learn more.
  • MASS Honor School Boards of the Year - School boards from Libby and St. Regis were recognized as recipients of the Montana Association of School Superintendent (MASS) Honor School Boards of the Year.  Click HERE for more information about the outstanding work of these school boards. 
  • Jay Erdie Memorial Scholarship - Jeanine Fillinger, K-5 Principal at Colstrip Public Schools.  Click HERE to learn more about this scholarship.

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The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and its state affiliate chapter, Montana Educational Technologists Association (META) are pleased to continue to support the work of current and aspiring superintendents and district leadership teams in leading all aspects of digital learning transformations.  

Last month we focused on five critical guidelines for ensuring student data privacy when leveraging technology to maximize student learning.  This month we turn our attention tot he larger and even more encompassing issue of cybersecurity. 

In today's world it seems there is not a week that goes by without a news story related to some sort of breach insecurity for one organization or another.  As school districts rely more and more on digital tools for data records, instruction, and many other facets of school or district operations, it is incumbent upon school leaders to understand the issues around cybersecurity and take appropriate actions to prevent any sort of breach within school data systems.  CoSN is pleased to support school leaders in communicating the urgency around cybersecurity by providing brief overview of the top five reasons why schools and districts must make cybersecurity a priority

CoSN, in partnership with edWeb.net, hosts The Empowered Superintendent monthly webinar series on topics that are essential for all educators engaged in leading digital transformations. School superintendents serve as panelists on each webinar and share their stories and expertise. The focus of the November 11, 2019, webinar (3:00 pm MT) is on cybersecurity. Learn more and register for this free webinar as well as access recordings of previously broadcast webinars at https://home.edweb.net/supers/.

If your school or district would like more information about joining CoSN or getting more involved with CoSN, please contact Brian Calvary, CAE, CoSN Director of Membership and Chapters, at  [email protected] 

SAM Welcomes New Business Partners  

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QuEst Services Corp:  We are a Professional Preconstruction & Construction Manager. We assist Owners in Representing them during Capital Construction Campaigns to maximize the amount of Construction Work for the District's dollars. We make sure the General Contractors and the Architect do what they have promised, without cutting any corners, all the while making sure there is open and fair competition for construction services. We are sticklers for construction team members being accountable to the District for the Services they contracted for. Everyone will be held accountable for their respective discipline so the Districts aren't paying the price when something that should have been included in a project, gets left out. We realize that this sounds a little bit too direct to some.... we just want all parties to do what they say they are going to do. 

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GotZoom:  As you may already know, student loan debt can be a terrific financial burden. To help alleviate this burden, SAM- School Administrators of Montana, would like to introduce you to our newest member benefit.  GotZoom.  They specialize in securing student loan subsidies for their clients as well as successfully enrolling them in loan forgiveness programs.  During the past 7 years, GotZoom's expertise has reduced the monthly student loan payments for their clients by an average of 65% as well as the total payout over the life of the loan by 75%.  This is a tool that could be used to enhance your recruiting and retention efforts.   

Thank you to SAM's Business Partners!  

Please take time to visit their websites.

Montana Big Sky Sponsors

Health Insurance
P O Box 4579 - Helena, MT 59601
[email protected]
Phone: 406-457-4401

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Technology Innovation
1309 NW Bypass - Great Falls, MT 59404  
[email protected]    
Phone: 406-727-5994   

Total Education Solutions in Technology (T.E.S.T)  
PO Box 2900
Missoula, MT 59805
[email protected]
Phone:  888-401-6950

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Empowering Teachers To
Drive Their Own Professional Learning
84 Sherman Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
 [email protected]

Montana Glacier Sponsors

infinite_campus.jpg - 7.35 KbInfinite Campus is the largest  American-owned student information system       
4321 109th Avenue NE
Blaine, MN 55449 stephanie.sondrol@infinite  campus.com
 A unique approach to teaching   K-6 math using hands-on,   interactive games
 37 E 28th Street Suite 600
 New York, NY 10016
 [email protected]

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Mileposts™ cloud-based
achievement & data management
408 E. Parkcenter Blvd., Ste.300
Boise, ID 83706 [email protected] 
valic (2).jpg - 30.26 KbAnnuities, life insurance     
430 Ryman St., #102
Missoula, MT 59892 
[email protected]

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School property & liability insurance
1200 North Montana Ave.
Helena. MT. 59601
[email protected]



Montana Mountain Sponsors

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Solutions
34 West 6th Avenue, Suite 2B
Helena, MT 59601
[email protected]

Lowest total operational cost clean buildings  2525 Overland Avenue
Billings, MT 59102 [email protected]

School portraits, yearbooks & sports portraits
2110 Overland Ave., #115A 
Billings, MT 59102 [email protected]

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C&C School Accounting
Software For Schools In Montana Since 1980
[email protected]

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Safe, Easily Managed School Networks
106 East Sixth Street, Suite 500
Austin TX 48701
[email protected]  512-904-0544   

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Auto, homeowners, life insurance and financial services
617 W Stolley Park Road
Grand Island, NE 68801
[email protected] 
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School Workers’ Compensation & Liability
PO Box 7029 - Helena, MT 59601
[email protected]
Phone: 406-457-4418
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College Assistance, Job Skill Training   
1956 MT Majo Street  
Fort Harrison, MT 59636
[email protected]

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A leading provider of comprehensive Custodial, Grounds & Facility Operations and Maintenance services  
4702 Western Ave. Suite 101
Knoxville, TN 37921 [email protected]
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Connecting Schools, Parents, and
Communities through Cloud-Based    
Communication Tools                                       
218 N. 3rd Ave 
Durant, OK 74701
[email protected]
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Professional Learning Organization 
1031 N. Academic Way, Ste. 242  
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814
[email protected]                                                     
Phone: 208-292-2529  
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Amanda Burnette                                         
3001 Metro Drive, Suite 480
Bloomington, MN. 55425
[email protected]
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Professional Preconstruction & Construction Manager
Mark Qualman
Billings, MT 
[email protected]

Montana Meadow Sponsors

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Maya Burnaugh
3001 Metro Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, MN. 55425
[email protected]

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School Accounting Software
145 Southlake Crest, Suite 1
Polson, MT. 59860
[email protected]
Phone: 800-353-8829

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Network and Communications Solutions 
904 C Avenue
Circle, MT 59215
[email protected]
Phone: 406-234-7470

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Technology planning, project  & solution  services
2135 Charlotte Street
Bozeman MT 59718
[email protected]      

900 N. Montana Ave. Suite A-4| Helena, MT. 59601| Phone (406)442-2510 | Fax (406)442-2518