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Libby grad named Montana Assistant Principal of Year

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
The Western News | December 12, 2023 7:00 AM

A Libby native has earned high accolades after being named the Montana Assistant High School Principal of the Year.

Kathy Kidder, a 1985 Libby High School graduate, wasn’t expecting it when Rob Watson, the Executive Director of School Administrators of Montana, presented her with a plaque on Nov. 16.

“I was really taken by surprise,” Kidder said in a phone conversation with The Western News. “I was having back surgery the next day and I was focused on that. I had forgot about the letter I received in September that I had been nominated for such an award by a staff member."

Kidder is an assistant principal at Capital High School in Helena where she’s been an educator since 2009. She helps supervise 750 students and more than 100 employees.

“We have a great team here, great people that are by your side every day,” Kidder said.

She still isn’t sure who nominated her for the award.

“It was someone in the building from Capital,” Kidder said. “I walked into my office in September and the nominating letter was sitting there, much to my surprise.”

Kidder began her path to a life in the education field at Eastern Montana College in Billings, now known as Montana State University Billings. She majored in Elementary Education (K-8) and Physical Education (K-12) and earned her Bachelor of Science in Education in 1989 with honors after achieving a 3.68 GPA.

Her first teaching position was at Camas County Elementary School in Fairfield, Idaho where she was a fifth-grade teacher and consultant for K-12 Physical Education and coached basketball from 1991-93.

Kidder returned to Montana in 1993, teaching at Corvallis from 1993 to 1997. There, she implemented a new health curriculum for the high school, coached volleyball, basketball and tennis and helped secure a grant with the Parks and Recreation Department for six new tennis courts used by the school and community.

In 1997, Kidder joined the Montana City School District in Helena where she served until 2009. She taught grades six through eight at the middle school before becoming the middle school principal for grades four through eight.

After she and her husband, Lance, had their first child, Caleb, Kidder decided to get her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Montana. She graduated in 1999 with honors after earning a 3.91 GPA.

“There was a lot of driving back and forth from Missoula then,” Kidder said.

Kidder’s interest in education was driven by a desire to help others pursue their future aspirations.

“Being able to be a person to help the next generation achieve their goals and dreams means a lot to me,” she said. “Fostering growth and enthusiasm for what they are interested in and helping them find that passion is what it’s all about.”

Kidder laughed when she talked about her 30-plus year career.

“I’ve had previous students’ kids who’ve graduated and now I’m seeing their kids!” Kidder said.

After recovering from her surgery, Kidder was back at work on Nov. 28 and again a pleasant surprise was there waiting for her.

“My office door was decorated and it was so nice to come back to,” she said. “Now I have to find a place to hang the plague.”

Kathy and Lance are the proud parents of three children. Caleb, 29, is a U of M grad who played football for the Grizzlies and earned a degree in Business. He was just recently married.

Twenty-two-year-old twins, Cade and Emily, are also out in the world making lives for themselves. Cade graduated U of M with a Business degree while Emily is an Intensive Care Unit nurse in Missoula.

“We’re all very proud of them,” Kathy said.

And just as proud is Kathy’s mom, Mary Devlin, who is a long-time Libby resident.

“She’s great at her job and I’m very proud of her,” Devlin said.

    Helena Capital High School Assistant Principal Kathy Kidder and her co-workers celebrate her being named the Montana High School Assistant Principal of the Year. (Courtesy photo)