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Bigfork superintendent chosen

by Sally Finneran Bigfork Eagle
| April 9, 2014 1:03 PM

The Bigfork Schools board of trustees named Matt Jensen as the new Bigfork superintendent of schools last week.

Jensen has served the last three years as the Elementary and Middle School principal. He said he is excited to take on the role of superintendent. “It’s a pretty humbling, honoring position to be put in,” he said.

Russ Kinzer has served as interim superintendent since January, after Cynthia Clary resigned due to a family medical situation.

Jensen will begin as superintendent July 1.

Jensen graduated from Flathead High School and went on to play basketball at Williston State College in North Dakota. There he began exploring different options for degrees and landed on education after discovering he liked working with children. He transfered to the University of Montana and graduated in 2004 with a social studies degree. He taught at Bigfork during his last semester of college and was then hired in the high school where he taught history, government and economics.

When he was a couple of years into teaching Jensen began working toward his masters, with the thought of moving into school administration. Just as he was finishing up his masters, opportunity arose, and he became the assistant principal and athletic director. He held that position for a year, before he was hired as the high school principal.

 “I loved the staff at the high school,” he said. “We started some pretty exciting things.” Three years later the elementary and middle school principal position opened up Jensen took the job, where he has been for the last three years.

Jensen said through the course of the last six years he’s been able to work with everyone on campus, and it’s given him a good feel for the Bigfork School District.

“I’m most excited about working with all the people I’ve been able to build relationships with,” he said.

He’s looking to focus on student growth and progress, through programs like the Montana Behavior Initiative and Response to Intervention. One focuses on school culture and climate, and the other on how staff teaches and intervenes.

He’d like to strengthen the relationship between the teachers union and the administration and work to have the administration serve the staff.

Jensen is working with Kinzer now on anything that will affect the next school year. Jensen said Kinzer was a mentor to him when he first started in administration.

He said Bigfork’s small community creates a good atmosphere and keeps class sizes small. He is excited to have his own children go through school in the district.

“I wouldn’t have applied for any other superintendent position, because that’s where I want to be,” Jensen said. “I would love to stay in Bigfork for a long time.”

Brenda Clark will replace Jensen as the Elementary and Middle School principal.

Kinzer, meanwhile, will go back to being retired.

Having a replacement hired “will be a relief to me,” Kinzer said. “I’m looking forward to fishing and gardening this summer.”