Thompsons head for Fort Benton; Sheridan begins searches for new principal

The Sheridan school board and administration is beginning the process of finding a new principal, as Jory Thompson finishes out his final year.

Thompson has been hired as the kindergarten through sixth grade principal in Fort Benton, a small community about 35 miles north of Great Falls. He officially tendered his resignation at the last school board meeting.

“It’s just a good opportunity for us as a family,” Thompson said.

He and his wife Marni along with their two school-aged children will be making the move at the beginning of June.

Marni Thompson, who is the district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Sheridan, will move to the NRCS area office in Great Falls. Like her husband, the move will provide a good professional opportunity.

In Great Falls her job will be less about working with local landowners and producers and more about helping district conservationists in her new area, which will extend across much of the Hi-line.

The couple is excited about the change, but it’s not without a struggle that they look to leave the Ruby Valley.

“It’s going to be really hard to leave,” Marni said. “I’ve learned a ton from (local landowners) and I hope I’ve helped them as much as they’ve helped me.”

When you live in a small community, you build relationships quickly and that’s going to be hard to leave, Jory said.

“More than anything we’re excited about this next chapter in our life, but we’re also leaving behind some great friends and some great people who will be missed,” he said.

The spot Thompson fills at Sheridan schools is going to be hard to fill, said Sheridan superintendent Kim Harding.

“The community and the students and staff love Jory and he will be greatly missed,” Harding said. “But we want to thank him for his many years of service to the community and his ability and willingness to be involved in all things community and wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors.”

Thompson’s job at Sheridan schools was more than just being the principal of the junior high and high school, he also served as transportation and technology director, along with some various teaching responsibilities, she said.

The district will be looking for someone to fill all those roles along with helping out with some athletic director duties, Harding said.

“I think the person that is selected needs to be a person of integrity and with the ability to meet people well … be a community liaison between the school district and the community, be willing to live in the district and become imbedded in the community,” she said.

The job advertisement is currently posted on the Montana Office of Public Instruction’s website and the district has received several applications, both from in-house and out of area candidates, Harding said.

The plan is to let the advertisement run for a couple more weeks and then create a selection committee comprised of board members and the administration. The selection committee will work through the applications and select candidates to interview. Harding anticipates having some kind of open house with community members when final candidates are selected.

The idea is to have someone hired by the first of June, she said.

At the NRCS office in Sheridan, Marni encourages landowners with questions about the different programs to continue to call her staff, Trisha Cracroft and Dan Durham.

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