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Gardiner School welcoming new principal and superintendent this summer

This comes a year after the last Principal and Superintendent suddenly resigned.
Posted at 4:37 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 18:37:04-04

GARDINER — After the sudden resignation of its last principal and superintendent, the Gardiner Public School will be welcoming a new person to the role this summer.

"Last August we had one person who was functioning as principal and superintendent. And that person was married to a brand-new special education teacher. And late in the summer, for personal reasons they needed to move out of state," says Interim Principal Laurie Smith.

The loss of all three positions left Gardiner School without any permanent administrators and little time before school was back in session.

Smith says, "Several teachers were named head teachers so that they could help with disciplinary things and making bigger decisions. And they were given a stipend for that."

Smith had retired from the special education position at Gardiner, but the district asked her to return as a part-time principal during the ordeal.

Jim Baldwin out of Missoula is currently the remote superintendent.

"Gardiner has always had a history of academic excellence and we certainly were not about to sacrifice that just because we didn’t have a permanent administrator in the building," says Smith.

And after a national search, Gardiner found its permanent hire.

"The person that we chose, her name is Jeanette Bray, and she’s coming up from Arizona," Smith says.

Despite coming from out of state, Jeanette is a Montana native who knows the area well.

Smith says, "She lived in Tom Miner Basin until she was five years old. And no matter where she was living, this was home and this was where her extended family comes from."

Bray arrives on July 1 and will reside in a new housing unit built for the position.

MTN will be premiering a tour of the new and updated teacher housing soon.