Great Falls Tribune
Loren Dunk has committed to himself to education in Montana. He has lived in Montana his whole life, growing up in Sunburst, going to college and earning his degree in business education, then got his first teaching job as business teacher in Flaxville, Montana.
After 31 years in education in Montana with the last 13 years spent in Power, Dunk has called it a career.
Dunk has been married for 29 years to his wife and has five children.
His journey began by obtaining his bachelor’s degree in business education. He has served in many roles in Montana, such as a business teacher in Flaxville, basketball and track coach, athletic director, administrator, principal, and superintendent.
Out of his many roles, being an administrator has been his favorite job.
“I think being a school administrator was my favorite. I enjoyed the responsibility of being in charge of the district and working together with teachers to make a great school system for the students,” Dunk said.
“Working 13 years at one school system as the K through 12 principal, and also the superintendent and staying at that system and being successful for 13 years is obviously quite an achievement, because that’s somewhat uncommon for administrators to stay that long in one system, or to continue to be rehired in one system. So I’m really proud of that.”
“I’m proud of Power, I was always able to help the school system recruit and retain really high quality teachers and, and meet accreditation, all of the years that I was there.”
However, as with any other job, being superintendent comes with it fair share of challenges, COVID being one of them, but he said he was able to meet the challenge in the face of harsh criticisms.
“Yeah, (COVID), that definitely was a unique challenge. I think that also ties into, you know, some of the moments that I’m proud of, we were able to stay in-person learning the last two years at Power. We didn’t have to quarantine entire classes or shut down the school and go to remote learning other than that first few months when the entire state was under the order of the governor.”
Dunk explained the challenge in continuing to do a good job when faced with critics, low salary, and lack of support and those who are “chipping away at public education.”
“So that’s become a real challenge for those of us that are proponents of it, and we’re trying to continue to provide great education for our students and our communities, and also having to, you know, battle, the people that are supposed to be supporting (public education at) the highest level and they’re not. They are opponents to it. So that’s been a real challenge the last few years,” he said.
Nichole Peiper is now the superintendent of Power and was the 7th-12th-grade principal of Cascade. As Peiper moves into this new role, he shares one piece of advice that he has already shared with her.
“My advice would be to just continue to utilize the great staff that is in place at Power, and the teachers and give them the support they need,” he said. “Because that always made my job I would say, easier, is to have good people in those positions and let them do their work and just support them the best you can. And I think that’s what’s most important to the students is just to give that support and have good teachers so that they get a good education.
“It’s always a good idea to make change slowly. So kind of survey the landscape and the culture and then decide individually, what your priorities are, and the changes you’d like to make in the school system and do those in a manner that works. Rather than just coming in and shaking everything up right away.”
Dunk’s next move will be catching up on rest and relaxation and spending time with his grandkids, family and friends. After half a year, Dunk would be open to a part-time job but does see himself getting back into a role to help out in schools like an administrative position.
This content was originally published here.