By Moira Blazi
Kaide Dodson was born and raised in Libby. Last week, she was one of four applicants out of a field of 13 who the Libby School Board interviewed for the principal job at Libby Elementary School (LES), the very same school Kaide attended as a child. Sometimes, things come sweetly full circle. Dodson was chosen for the job, and she will be returning to LES next year as the principal.
“I am absolutely honored,” she told the Montanian, “this school has a phenomenal staff, and excellent instructional strategies. It is a great place to work and receive an education.”
Kaide began teaching in 2004 in Crescent City Calif, fresh out of Montana State university (MSU) at Bozeman, and while in California, in addition to teaching, she wrote grants and taught credit recovery classes for the after-school program.
Then, after a short stint as assistant principal at a charter school in Las Vegas, Dodson moved back to Libby in 2013. For the next four years she worked as the federal program grant director and curriculum specialist for special education for the Libby School District. During that time, she wrote lots of grants for the district and played an important role in curriculum development, but she missed the close contact with kids. Last year, Dodson and Elementary Assistant Principal, Scott Beagle, switched jobs.
As Assistant Principal, Dodson has been working on putting an emphasis back on writing skills for the students using “roots and wings” a structural reading strategy and the Montana Comprehensive Literacy Project (MCLP). She told the Montanian that the teaching staff at Libby Elementary has begun incorporating writing skills into math as well, by having students write about their experiences learning math, using a pre-set list of questions, and encouraging the students to be more conscious of their own learning process.
Now as Vice Principal, and next year as Principal, Dodson’s will also emphasize fostering students respect for themselves and their classmates. Using the ROAR model. With this model students are encouraged to look closely at R-respect, O-organization, A-attitude and R-responsibility.
“These are the universal expectations of ROAR, this is what we expect every student to demonstrate,” Dodson said.
The school has also revamped the “golden tickets,” a student reward and recognition system, making it more about respect for others and doing it more often.
Taking this a bit farther, local business owner Teri Noble jumped in to help start “kindness tickets.” Kindness tickets offer kids free movie passes and ice cream vouchers for their kind acts. There are posters around the school which say, “Kind is the new cool,” and, every Monday morning the students start their week with an announcement about an act of student kindness from the week prior.
“Things like inviting a kid sitting all alone to sit with them, demonstrating empathy toward others, or holding the door for a parent whose arms are full are the kind of things we recognize,” Dodson said. “It has helped the kids get through the last of winter and make a good transition into spring.”
Dodson is excited to take the reins from Principal Goodman in Sept. 2018.