The superintendent of Missoula County Public Schools named Ted Fuller the principal at Sentinel High School on Tuesday, ending a transition that saw the school’s last principal resign from the district.
In making the announcement, Superintendent Alex Apostle said Fuller had won the full support of Sentinel’s staff. Margo Duneman was also named assistant principal at Sentinel and will join Brian Fortmann on the job.
“We require a lot from our leaders, and I believe this team is going to continue to lead Sentinel forward,” Apostle said. “We’re very proud of the decision the staff has made. We received input from students and parents as well, and it was all positive in supporting Fuller and Duneman.”
The appointment allows Fuller to achieve a personal career goal. He served as the assistant principal at Hellgate High School for 13 years before moving to Sentinel, where he aspired to emerge as the school’s new principal.
On Tuesday, Fuller said he was thrilled and humbled by the appointment. He said Sentinel can now move forward and continue growing in what he calls a collaborative environment.
“There’s a lot of work going on here at Sentinel that’s been going on for a long time,” he said. “I’m working really hard to continue the systems we have in place to support the work people have already invested in.”
Fuller told the Missoulian in September he would spend his first few months on the job taking feedback from teachers, students and parents. He called the process a valuable orientation, and he doesn’t plan on changing his approach.
He believes the principal’s job is to empower teachers and connect with students and parents.
“I need to be really accessible, very available, listen to student and parent voices, and create a unified vision for Sentinel," he said. “I believe that a school’s success is built upon strong collaborative relationships.”
Fuller and Duneman were both appointed to the Sentinel posts in September after the district removed former Principal Tom Blakely and Assistant Principal Libby Oliver for reasons that have not been disclosed.
Oliver is now serving as the assistant principal at Hellgate. Blakely ultimately resigned from the district, receiving $90,473 through June 30, 2015.
The district has only said that Blakely violated a district policy regarding staff ethics. It has not stated what violation occurred, citing privacy issues. A Freedom of Information Act request filed last week by the Missoulian for emails related to the administrative change is still pending.
Fuller is looking to put the past behind the district and move Sentinel forward.
“Opportunity sometimes presents itself in ways we least expect, and sometimes those opportunities turn out to be the most fruitful,” Fuller said. “We’ve come together as a high school around a shared vision, so it makes the achievement of this goal even more fulfilling.”