Libby Public Schools prepare for 2019 school year

LeRoy Thom, Jason Williams, Jon Roberts, Jamie Rosling, Donna Williams, Brad Black, Tracy McNew, Erica Hartley, and Joe Miller pose with the $24,381.94 check donated to the CARD Clinic by the CARD Foundation. The money was raised during this year’s Big Sky Bash and it will be used to help fund the clinic’s new parking lot. Photo courtesy of Donna Williams.


By Moira Blazi


As students come back, things around Libby Middle/High School (LMHS)will seem a bit different this year. Many long time teachers and staff are choosing to retire, leaving some pretty big shoes to fill. Among them are music teacher, Lorraine Braun, who started at Libby high in 2007 now leaving the legacy of the Select Choir.

“Mrs. Braun will be remembered for her award-willing choirs and performances. Her passion for music education and love of the arts is seen in everyday lessons with students. She has an amazing ability to bring out the best in her students, molding them into great performers,” said Principal Ruth VanWorth-Rodgers.

Teacher and coach, Cindy Ostrem-Johnson (OJ)  has been with the kids since 1990. “Mrs. OJ has made an indelible mark on LMHS not only for her teaching, but also for her passion for coaching students to become the best they can be,” said VanWorth-Rodgers.

Art teacher, Patty Rambo, who started teaching art in 2006 will be sorely missed too. “Ms. Rambo will be remembered for her passion for art and her talent for bringing the artist out in all of her students, everyone who went through her classes gained an understanding of the basic elements of art and design. She will also be remembered for her contributions to the Libby community as a graphic designer. I will miss working with her on graphic design projects; the pride she takes in her work always shows,” added VanWorth-Rodgers.

Also retiring is beloved teacher, Todd Shatz, who will be remembered “for his stories, life lessons, and examples that helped bring literature alive for his students, and his sense of humor.”

In addition to teachers, Nora Berry, school nutrition facilitator is retiring after running the kitchen since 2001. “Her soups will be missed by all,” VanWorth-Rodgers said.

Despite the departure of so many fine folks, the Libby school district is ready for the 2019-2020 school year. “We have had to do some shuffling with some of our teaching positions because, for science and math, we did not have any applicants. We have moved a current teacher into science and hired a teacher that teaches math, though he is not certified in that area. Every year we get fewer and fewer applicants for all teaching positions. “This is a scary trend we are facing. Calling colleges to recruit for our district, we hear that they have few or no people student teaching in the hard to fill positions,” Superintendent Craig Barringer told the Montanian.

Still, the district hopes that no classes or programs will suffer. “By shuffling schedules and trying to meet the requirements for classrooms and offerings, we are able to keep class sizes and options similar to years past,” Barringer added.

Two of the new teachers, fresh out of school, are Dayln Germany and Luke Haggerty. Dayln, who came to Libby when she was six, will be teaching fourth grade. Coming from a family of educators, Dayln told the Montanian, “As a kid, I spent a lot of time reading  in my mom’s special ed classroom. I just knew I wanted to go into the family business.” Her brother, Micah, is also an educator, teaching social studies at Libby High. “I like that I get to be at this school (Libby Elementary), so I don’t get confused with the rest of my family,” she told The Montanian with a smile. “And my dad is not my boss,” she added with a laugh.

Besides coaching football at Troy High, new teacher, Luke Haggerty will be teaching sixth grade language arts this year. Although originally hired to teach high school math, he switched to sixth grade reading and writing when the position came open. “I enjoy coming to work every day,” he told The Montanian. “This is a very positive, high energy place. There is always someone to pick you up. We are a big family where everybody helps everybody.” He is looking forward to teaching sixth graders. “It’s the time right before high school, and I hope to be able to help them make that transition. It’s not easy going from being top dog to the bottom of the food chain,”  he added with a smile.

Both Germany and Haggerty attended the University of Montana in Missoula and they had many classes together. Both are very happy to be teaching in Libby.

“Our education system here in Libby is great,” Germany said.

“Everybody works hard to make it a big part of the community. I like feeling good at the end of the day, and I know I am making an impact,” Hagerty added.

School starts on Tuesday, August 27 this year. See page 7 for more back to school information.

Upcoming Libby senior attends youth leadership conference

Submitted by

Deanna Malyvac


Upcoming senior, Jaycee Thornock, attended the Youth Leadership Conference through GEAR UP from July 13 through 17. Thornock was accompanied by Deanna Malyevac, GEAR UP Liaison for Libby. The two flew down to San Francisco for the conference.

This year’s conference theme was, “The Way of the Equity Warrior.” The event included over 2,200 GEAR UP representatives from 42 states. During the conference, put on by National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) and the company Seeds, Thornock met around 200 other GEAR UP students from across the nation.

The students learned about what it takes to be a leader through activities and speeches from people like Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, and Vijay Gupta, former violinist of the L.A. Philharmonic now working with Street Symphony.

During the conference, Seeds brought in wooden boards for the students to write one thing they wanted to overcome. Participants then chose whether they wanted to break the board with their hand or their foot.

“I think that was probably my favorite part of the experience. It made me feel pretty awesome and emotional at the same time. It was just a very powerful exercise and I think it spoke volumes to the other students as well,” Thornock said. “We also got pretty real and vulnerable with each other, even though we were only there for a short amount of time. I probably know more about some of those people than their friends in their home state, and I feel so connected to them even now. I know their story and they know mine. Those people had such a strong impact on me, it’s unbelievable. I wish I could live it all over again.”

GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is in its ninth year at LMHS and Montana GEAR UP believes that postsecondary education is possible for all Montana students, regardless of economic background.

Montana GEAR UP supports schools, students, and their families to increase students’ college and career readiness through academic preparedness, postsecondary planning, and financial aid knowledge so that they may succeed in their education beyond high school.


Thornock holds the board she broke during the GEAR UP conference. Breaking the board represented overcoming a personal obstacle and was a very powerful experience for participants. Photo courtesy of Deanna Malyvac.

CARD Foundation donates over $24K to new parking lot

Submitted by Dusti Thompson


The Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) Foundation, recently donated $24,381.94 to the CARD Clinic to help fund a much-needed new parking lot.

According to Tracy McNew, Administrative Director at CARD, the clinic needs a new parking lot for safety’s sake. The current parking lot is dangerously sloped causing a hazard for patients especially during the winter time with snow and ice. Also, it does not offer any accessible parking for those with disabilities, and it is too small to accommodate the number of patients seen at the clinic on a daily basis.

According to Donna Williams, President of the CARD Foundation board of directors, “The CARD Foundation is very thankful for the public’s support of our annual Big Sky Bash, and we are pleased to be able to give this large donation to the clinic for their parking lot.”

The CARD Foundation received  grant money from the Lincoln County Community Foundation and donated an automatic door opener earlier this year to make the CARD Clinic more accessible for patients with disabilities. The new parking lot will further improve access for the disabled and it will fix basement flooding problems as well.

Dr. Brad Black started the CARD clinic way back in 2003. At first, CARD operated with four staff members in a temporary trailer. They eventually bought a building, and later added on to update and accommodate growth. The nonprofit bought the lot next door to their building about five year ago, and now, finally, after 16 years, they’ll have a parking lot big enough to accommodate their growing patient population and their 23 person staff.

“It’s a relief to finally be able to put in a new parking lot that will make accessing CARD much easier and safer for our patients. We sincerely thank the Foundation volunteers for their efforts and support,” said Dr. Black.

Although the parking lot project will cost over $210,000, this donation will help the nonprofit clinic significantly. The new parking lot will double the number of spaces, level the grade, include handicapped parking spots, and improve water drainage. Construction is anticipated to begin in October.

For more information about supporting the project please contact the CARD Foundation by email at