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Alumnus Receives Superintendent of the Year Award

Randy Cline, University of Montana alumnus and superintendent of Frenchtown School District, is the recipient of the Montana Superintendent of the Year award. The award is presented by the Montana Association of School Superintendents, and is one of several honors Cline has received during his time as an educator. Cline is humble and points to his team when asked about his many successes. “Any individual award is a team award,” Cline says, and goes on to emphasize the importance of collaboration and communication with his staff.

Cline, a native Montanan, started his teaching career in Huntley Project and obtained his Masters of Educational Leadership from the University of Montana in 1993. After working as a principal, athletic director and district superintendent around the state, he became the district superintendent of Frenchtown School District. In this capacity Cline led the district through a $19 million building project, established a partnership with Missoula Public Library, and directed and received several educational grants. Awarded grants included Grant to Reduce Alcohol Use and two Quality School Grants.

Roberta Evans, dean and professor of Educational Leadership in the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences at UM speaks proudly of Cline.

"He was insightful as a graduate student and clearly destined to be an exemplary, collaborative school administrator,” Evans says. “To see him recognized for his incredibly strong expertise in curriculum development, personnel administration, school facilities design, financial management and outreach to consolidate great work across districts through his WMASS leadership is wonderful. Frenchtown School District is one of Montana's finest, and this award is well-deserved for Randy Cline."

John Matt, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership echoes Dean Evans’ sentiment, adding, “Randy is an excellent administrator and demonstrates the kind of collaborative and mindful leadership we promote. We’re proud to be represented in the field by him.”

Over his 35 years in education, Cline has gained invaluable knowledge. His words of wisdom for new teachers: “Find a mentor. Set goals for yourself, and be a team player.” Cline’s wisdom comes from real-world experience, something he appreciated greatly during his education at the University of Montana. He noted the significance of the leadership curriculum, finance classes, and faculty expertise: “Dean Evans’ broad-based experience was very relevant.” He also noted the finance coursework was essential to success as a superintendent. “Every superintendent will have to deal with financial issues,” Cline says with a laugh. Cline has handled those issues with finesse, saving taxpayers more than $500,000 while employed by Frenchtown School District.

Cline isn’t one to be tied to his desk. He believes “it’s all about the kids” and makes an effort to be present in the classroom and interact with students. During I Love to Read month, Cline frequently read to students in classrooms across the district. His passion for student achievement and growth is evident; he recalled one student whom he mentored during his time as a principal in Sunburst. Years later, the student reached out to Cline and thanked him for his mentorship and kindness. As Cline reflects on the story, his soft spot for students is clear. “The students of Frenchtown High School are just absolutely great,” Cline says.

“Leadership like Randy is essential in Montana schools,” Matt says. “Our students are our future, and we are excited about the future with leaders like Randy in place.”