All in the Family - Widhalm assumes superintendent’s duties in Denton

Doreen Heintz

Craig Widhalm has taken the reins as superintendent of schools at Denton for this school year.

Photo by Doreen Heintz

Craig Widhalm, the new superintendent at the Denton School, is already feeling right at home in his new position. First of all, Widhalm is a 2001 graduate of Belt High School. Secondly, he is a cousin to both Superintendent Hugo Anderson of Hobson and Superintendent Joe Gaylord of Grass Range. Widhalm’s step-dad is superintendent of schools in Hardin, and his mom was a teacher in the Belt school system. She just recently retired.
“I feel I am a Central Montana boy,” said Widhalm about applying for the superintendent’s position in Denton. “It felt right to get back in the area.”
This is Widhalm’s first job as a superintendent after spending the last two years as a principal in Circle. Previous to Circle, Widhalm was a math teacher in Shelby.
“I am really enjoying Denton,” said Widhalm. “I have no ambitions to be a superintendent in a big school. I enjoy Class C schools, and I don’t want my kids to just be a number in a large school.”
Widhalm and his wife Jessica have two children. Five-year-old Jesse is in kindergarten at Denton, while 7-year-old Michael is in the first grade. Jessica is originally from Highwood.
Widhalm doesn’t look to change many things in his first year as a superintendent.
“I first need to gain the trust of the teachers,” Widhalm said. “We need to make sure the building is safe and secure, and I may be doing some fine tuning of technology-type of things.”
Widhalm is also up to the task of wearing many hats as superintendent.
“I am working on balancing my time as superintendent, teaching one class (seventh-grade math), being the activities director at Denton, and taking college classes online to complete my superintendent’s endorsement,” he said. “I have to be flexible and be willing to volunteer for a lot of unpaid positions.”
Widhalm is excited the number of students is up at Denton this year.
“We were expecting an enrollment of around 40 students this year,” Widhalm said, “but we got eight or nine new enrollees to push us to 50 plus.
“Money is always going to be an issue in the small schools,” Widhalm added. “We are going to have to make smart decisions.”
Widhalm has already had a couple of headaches associated with the job.
“We had our English teacher resign late this summer,” Widhalm explained. “With the late resignation I went into panic mode to get a new teacher hired before school started. Instead of going through the whole process of advertising the position and doing interviews, I searched someone out who might want to teach in Denton. We had our new teacher from Lewistown hired the Tuesday after the Thursday resignation.”

Widhalm has athletic background
While attending Belt High School, Widhalm excelled in track, basketball and football. His first love was track. Following high school graduation, Widhalm ran track for two years at the University of Montana.
“But then I got sick and lost my scholarship,” Widhalm said. “I then transferred to MSU, and  got back on a scholarship. When I had to have knee surgery, that ended my competitive running career.”
Widhalm graduated from the University of Great Falls, majoring in math and secondary education. When Widhalm taught in Shelby, he was also the head boys and girls track coach for three years. He also coached basketball in Circle one year.
Widhalm was a member of the first class inducted into the Craig Cummings Athleic Hall of Fame in Belt.
Widhalm sees his life as too busy to coach in Denton, but he is willing to help out if needed.



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