Big Sky Roundup

Arntzen is 1st GOP superintendent of public instruction to win 2nd term in nearly 30 years

By: - January 5, 2021 4:30 am
Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen stands behind a podium and microphone with her mask in her hand just before taking her oath of office. To her right is a man and also Judge Mary Jane Knisely of Yellowstone County District Court in a mask. Another man in a masks stands to her left.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen said in remarks after taking the oath of office Jan. 4, 2021: “As a former legislator, I am confident the Montana legislature will join me in putting our Montana students first in all their endeavors.” (Keila Szpaller/The Daily Montanan.)

Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen took her oath of office outdoors Monday in front of the Montana Capitol.

“I am honored to continue the great work of putting Montana students and families first through my Montana initiatives of ‘Hope, Teach, Learn, and Ready,’” said Arntzen in a prepared statement she provided in advance of the ceremony. “I look forward to working with the newly elected Land Board to ensure our public lands serve our Montana students.

“As a former legislator, I am confident the Montana legislature will join me in putting our Montana students first in all their endeavors. It is with humility and great joy that I take the oath of office for my second term as state superintendent.”

In the email announcing the event, Arntzen noted she is the first Republican re-elected to the office for a second term in 28 years. Judge Mary Jane Knisely of Yellowstone County District Court administered the oath.

Prior to the ceremony, OPI Chief of Staff Sarah Swanson walked the perimeter of the crowd and asked people to spread apart and maintain social distance. Shortly before the affair began, roughly 30 people gathered around the podium including supporters of the superintendent and members of the media.

As part of the brief event, Pastor Steve Bostrom of Helena prayed for the superintendent, children and families. “We remember Peter when he wrote, ‘You were continually straying like sheep, but now you’ve returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls,’” Bostrom said. “ … This word guardian is also translated, ‘superintendent.’”

He prayed that children be granted “agile and inquisitive minds as they come to learn and care for all creation,” and that teachers be granted “the shepherd’s deep love for all truth.”

After the ceremony, Arntzen planned to head to Boulder to serve students lunch. She also planned to hold a virtual panel in the afternoon on safely reopening schools.

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Keila Szpaller
Keila Szpaller

Keila Szpaller is deputy editor of the Daily Montanan and covers education. In Montana since 1998, she loves hiking in Glacier National Park, wandering the grounds of the Archie Bray and sitting on her front porch with friends. Before joining States Newsroom Montana, she served as city editor of the Missoulian, the largest news outlet in western Montana. She worked there from 2006 to 2020. As a Missoulian reporter, she was named a co-fellow by the Education Writers Association to report on a series about economic mobility; grantee of the Society of Environmental Journalists for a project on conservation from the U.S. to Africa; and Kiplinger Fellow in Digital Media and Public Affairs Journalism. She previously worked at the Great Falls Tribune and Missoula Independent, and she earned her master’s in journalism from the University of Montana. She lives in Missoula with her husband, Brock, who is also her favorite chef, and her pup, Henry, who is her favorite adventure companion. She believes she deserves to wear the T-shirt with this saying: “World’s most mediocre runner.”