Missoula Schools Continue to Set the Curve

From cubs to full-grown Grizzlies, students in Missoula find innovative education programs make going to school more than bear-able.

On Monday, July 11, 2011 - 11:15
Missoula, MT

Award-winning really is the best way to describe the educational system in Missoula – at the primary, secondary and higher education levels. In January 2008, for example, the National Association of Agriculture Educators named Big Sky High School teacher Gene McClure one of the nation’s top six agriculture teachers.

McClure, known for encouraging his students to try new experiences and be leaders, recently led by example when he accepted a job with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The school opens its doors to elementary and middle school students for an annual Science Circus, a hands-on event featuring tie-dying and a Velcro wall. University of Montana professors join in the fun, giving demonstrations at the event as well. A program at Lewis and Clark Elementary designed to broaden students’ knowledge of American Indian culture and heritage was honored with a Civic Star Award at the 2008 American Association of School Administrators conference.

And the University of Montana was named most scenic campus by Rolling Stone magazine and was deemed one of Outside magazine’s top 10 colleges for combining academics and outdoor recreation. Sometimes described as a city within a city, the university boasts nearly 14,000 students and even has its own zip code. The university offers three colleges -– arts and sciences, forestry and conservation, and technology -– and six schools: journalism, law, business, education, pharmacy and the fine arts.

Missoula also is home to a number of private schools. Clark Fork School describes itself as a parent-child cooperative program exploring the relationships between education, nature and the community for students in preschool through 5th grade. Parochial offerings include St. Joseph School and Loyola Sacred Heart Catholic High School.