After Dr. Rob Watson resigned as Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent and moved on to another education post in Helena, the Board of Trustees asked Watson’s second in command Russ Lodge to be the interim superintendent for the upcoming school year.

We reached out to Lodge as he prepares for the upcoming school year for MCPS students and staff.

“One of the things we're going to emphasize this year is a lot of self-care and wellness." began Lodge. “We want that for our staff and we want that for our kids, so we're working with people to provide us with some professional development throughout the year and not just a one-time shot in order to help people with self-regulation and building relationships. In addition, we want to get back to the basics of teaching, which is all built around relationships.”

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Asked about any possible leftover problems with remote learning over the past two years, Lodge said he is confident that students and staff will start the school year in good shape.

“I think we're going to be fine academically,” he said. “We've got lots of plans. We have two new assistant superintendents, and we've been working with a new strategic plan for the school district, and everything's dovetailing off of that. So I actually feel pretty good about where we're at. I'm kind of anxious to get the year started and kick this thing in gear.”

Lodge addressed the topic of new curricula for MCPS after there was some controversy in the last school year.

“Actually, Peter the process is pretty thorough,” he said. “It takes us a year to do the research and do the book studies, whatever the topic area, English, science, social studies, or math that you might be talking about. You've got to get stakeholders from all areas. You must get teachers and parents and peer educators and students and administrators and have numerous meetings and be as transparent as you can be. Then of course, in the end, the board will take a vote, but usually, if you've done it well, by the time you get to the board, it's pretty much-taken care of because you've worked all the way through the processes and you're not surprising anybody at the end.”

Lodge identified the focus of the new MCPS strategic plan to be put into effect in the fall.

“We have a new strategic plan that the board just adopted,” he said. “We were under the old one for 10 years. Really the main theme of the new one is ‘equity and inclusion’. So we're working hard to have that in everything that we do and make sure that we're following that board-adopted strategy for the next 10 years. Because of that, we're anxious to kick this new strategic plan off and keep going in a real positive direction.”

The first official day of classes will be Tuesday, September 6 after the Labor Day holiday.

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