A Flathead High School hiring committee is recommending that the Kalispell school board of trustees approve interim principal Michele Paine as the high school’s new principal.
The board of trustees will review the recommendation at its March 20 meeting. If approved by the board, Paine will fill a position left vacant by former Principal Peter Fusaro’s departure in May 2017, an opening that she has temporarily filled this school year as interim principal. She previously served as assistant principal beginning in 2011.
“In her current role as Interim Principal, Michele has already made some positive changes,” Superintendent of Kalispell Public Schools Mark Flatau wrote in a March 7 email announcing the FHS Principal Review Committee’s recommendation. “She is excited to continue implementing her vision for FHS and continue to work with her team of outstanding educators and staff members to build on its tradition of excellence.”
John Blackman, a former school administrator in Idaho, was initially hired for the position and was slated to formally take over before the current school year began. But Blackman rescinded his acceptance of the position in June 2017 after it was discovered that he plagiarized parts of his introductory email to staff.
The hiring committee’s second choice, Tres Genger, principal at Lindbergh High School in Renton, Washington, turned down the position, sending the committee back to the drawing board. In July of last year, Paine was appointed interim principal.
The four candidates reviewed by the hiring committee this time around were Paine, Genger, Chad Bourgeois, principal at Buffalo High School in Buffalo, Wyoming, and Robert Macauley, the former principal at Glencoe High School in Hillsboro, Oregon.
In Flatau’s March 7 email, he called Paine a “lifelong educator.” She received her bachelor’s degree in English and teaching certification from the University of Washington in Seattle, her master’s of education in curriculum instruction from Montana State University and her K-12 principal certification from University of Montana.
Paine began her classroom career in 1994 as a language arts, reading and art teacher at Kennedy Junior High School in Salt Lake City. In 1998, she began serving as the Title 1 reading/English tutor at Kalispell Junior High School, followed by a stint as the reading intervention teacher at Flathead High.
Paine became the language arts facilitator for K-12 at Kalispell Public Schools in 2005 and then stepped into the assistant principal position in 2011.
“It was clear in the interview process that Michele has vision, passion and experience to not only honor the past but to prepare FHS in the coming year for continued educational excellence,” Flatau wrote.