GREAT FALLS - Gov. Greg Gianforte visited Great Falls High School on Tuesday to share his plans for the next legislative session.
The topic he touched on was education which Gianforte says is near to his heart as Gianforte's mother and daughter are both educators.
Administrators, teachers, and students from around Great Falls schools took part in the roundtable discussion.
The three key pillars discussed on Tuesday were parent involvement, digital and workforce education and higher wages for teachers.
“With individualized learning students progress at their own pace, regardless of age or class. Students are measured on where they are on a subject and move through the content areas based on their level of competency," Gianforte stated.
CMR High School senior Brandon Robbins is an aspiring educator who participates in a Special Education teaching program. He spends 15 hours a week working outside of the classroom to gain experience in the workforce, which is a key component of the governor’s education rollout.
“Being able to set a role model for the young of younger students and the up-and-coming students really means a lot because it allows me to show them that you can work hard, and you can get what you want with just hard work and determination," Robbins said.
Individualized learning is only one part of the three-part policy rollout as working to create greater parent involvement is important to Gianforte.
"We want to recognize that parents are the first and the lifetime teachers of their kids," the governor stated.
Higher teacher wages are the third leg of the trio of pillars discussed by Gianforte.
“When I came into office, Montana was 50th out of 50 states in starting teacher pay. We were dead last. That's why we prioritize the TEACH act, which recognizes the local control of local school boards, but provides most of the funding to allow these local school boards to choose to pay their teachers more," Gianforte said.
It all comes down to the students and success is the number one concern.
Gianforte asked Robbins, “what has your time in the classroom been like?”
“It's taught me a lot. It definitely teaches you that you have to be accountable for your actions as well as others, and you have to make sure that you are setting an example," Robbins responded.
CMR High School Principal Jamie McGraw noted that a majority of students in the education system in the state go right into the workforce.
"I think it's incredibly important to make sure that we have pathways readily available for students no matter where they're going to go after high school. That's the most important work that we do.”
"And I think it's powerful for the governor to hear from students who are engaging in a pathway sooner or earlier, starting a career and really be knowledgeable about a career choice that they're making in our community," McGraw continued.
The topics discussed at the roundtable will be brought to the next legislative session, which begins in January 2023.