Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Skylar Rispens

Swan Valley School hires principal and new K-2 teacher


August 8, 2019

SWAN VALLEY - The Swan Valley Elementary School Board filled two vacant positions for the upcoming academic year.

At a special meeting July 18, the board hired Chris Mauldin for the vacant kindergarten through second grade teaching position. At their special meeting July 30, they unanimously agreed to hire Ralph King as principal at a .2 Full Time Equivalent (FTE).

Seeley Lake Elementary had already hired Mauldin for the 2019-2020 school year as a 0.2 FTE special education paraeducator before he took the K-2 position at Swan Valley School. He has also worked as a paraeducator with SLE’s preschool in the past. Mauldin currently lives in Seeley Lake.

King brings 30 years of experience in education in rural schools as a teacher, administrator, special education teacher and other roles. According to Swan Valley School Board Chair John Mercer, King specializes in mentoring teachers and encouraging growth in rural schools. He previously worked in Alaska and Montana and has lived in the Swan Valley the past 20 years.

“He understands the rural environment, he understands the challenges rural schools face and the incredible opportunities they offer,” said Mercer.

“We hired a candidate who lives locally and we knew he was available and interested,” said Erin Lipkind, Missoula County Superintendent of Schools.

Previously, the SLE Superintendent served Swan Valley Elementary School as an administrator. However, the board decided that having an administrator focused solely on the needs of their school would be best for the future.

“It is something we have long wanted,” said Mercer. “If anything, we may be able to contribute more [to the district] because we’ll have an active onsite administrator.”

According to Lipkind, the principal position was not advertised publicly and King was the only candidate considered. Lipkind considered the interview process to be “rigorous” and asked King nearly 17 questions in the interview.

“It’s what’s best for the school district,” said Lipkind. “I think it’s going to provide more comprehensive supervision and evaluation of the teachers than what you’ve seen previously and [King will] be able to really get to know the students and the parents of the community.”


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