Longtime teaching background prepared incumbent for county superintendent of schools responsibilities

Thursday, November 1, 2018

File photo by Andrew Turck

Vicki Gale, incumbent candidate for Big Horn County superintendent of schools, talks to local residents about her background during a candidate forum held Tuesday, Oct. 2 in the Hardin Historic Depot.

Reflecting on her past two years as superintendent of schools for Big Horn County, Vicki Gale believes her work has gone “very favorably,” with her current focus on making sure local teachers are certified.

“There’s a lot to take care of; the finances come through us,” Gale said. “It’s a lot of responsibility.”

She first was appointed to the position by the county commissioners on Aug. 29, 2016 as the sole applicant after former Superintendent of Schools Sandy Watts resigned. Gale now is running as the incumbent against John Small – a former Lodge Grass superintendent of schools – and the general election will be decided Nov. 6.

If Gale is chosen to continue, she said, she would like to do a historical project regarding the county schools both past and present. On a map across from her desk showing Big Horn County from the 1880s, roughly 150 county schools are indicated with labeled pins. Now, just one such school remains: Spring Creek Elementary in Decker.

“I would like to make note of all the schools we had here and the years they were in operation,” she said. “We had a lot of county schools in this state at one time.”

Gale herself seems to have around five decades of education experience, though she “quit counting the years.”

While in Big Horn County, she taught at Wyola for 34 years, then in Lodge Grass for three before her retirement in 2011. During her Lodge Grass period, she wrote a grant through a program called Technology for Teaching that established the school’s first internet connection. She also grew up in an education-centric environment, she said, as her mother was a school clerk in Beaverhead County.

Going forward, she said, she is “excited to be working with kids and all the positive things happening with [them] nowadays.”

“My style of leadership is laid back,” she said. “I like to ask people what they want and go from there.”