GREAT FALLS- After 34 years as an educator, Tammy Lacey, the Great Falls Public Schools Superintendent, is now retiring. She's sharing with us some of her trials and tribulations, and what's next.
As Lacey is gearing up for retirement, she's reflecting back on some of her most cherished and difficult times as a leader in education. Lacey says in her six years she was able to get more students graduating with differentiated diplomas, decreasing the drop out rate.
Along with having a non-state funded public preschool in Great Falls, passing the Bond Levy improving the infrastructure to schools, and seeing Giant Springs Elementary School open.
She says she faced hardships including handling personnel issues, worrying about school safety after having to manage potential school threats, and not passing the Operational Levy which cut the Environmental Education Program and school field trips.
"I knew what that meant. And so I took it hard because I knew we would put those resources to work for children and when you don't have them it was a tough thing," Lacey said.
Despite GFPS System losing 102 teachers to budgeting the last ten years, Lacey says it's the little moments highlighting and outweighing anything negative.
"Everyday in this community a miracle happens in several classrooms when there are just ah-ha moments for teachers and students who celebrate that,” Lacey said.
Tammy says you have to be humble as an educator. It can take years to see your work pay off considering kids may not notice the impact you have on them until they grow older.
Tammy also talked about leadership and what it takes to make a well-oiled school district run. She says there's no division between leaders and followers; you have to work together as a team in order to be successful.
What next for Tammy Lacey?
Lacey tells us it's time for some well overdue "R&R". For starters, she won't have to respond to any emails and will be able to simply relax.
Lacey says, she's looking forward to hitting the golf links, spending more time at home, and visiting with family.
Retiring for Lacey is bittersweet. She says she just finished doing her last high school commencements this weekend.
But the Great Falls native doesn't plan on leaving the Electric City anytime soon.
From an educator standpoint, she leaves this advice for those wanting to pursue a career in education.
"You know that there's going to be mistakes. We are nothing but human. If you're passionate about where your heading and what you want to do then you force yourself to sometimes self reflect and say oh boy that didn't go well, what could I have done differently,” Lacey said.
Besides that, Lacey says it's important to lift others up, thank people, and acknowledge people when they're doing what's right.
Lacey tells us although she's retiring, she's still going to be a part of Montana's public education as she's continuing to serve on the State Board of Public Education.
June 28th is Lacey's last day, and Tom Moore the GFPS Assistant Superintendent for grades 7-12th is taking over.