The Three Forks School Board decided last week to offer the high school principal position to Belgrade High School Vice Principal Paul Lamb. Though Lamb said he wants to move to the next stage in his career, he turned down the job.
“It was going to be a significant pay cut,” Lamb said. “I talked with my wife and she told me to stick it out in Belgrade until Calvin graduates. It was an awesome opportunity, just one year too early.”
After Lamb’s son graduates from Belgrade High School, he said he plans to keep looking for a principal job that will pay the bills.
“I’m still excited to be in Belgrade,” Lamb said. “If I ever do leave Belgrade, it will be so tough.”
After Lamb turned the position down, Justin Helvik, the current Colstrip Middle School Principal, was offered the job. Robert DoBell, who was recently upgraded from Three Forks High School Principal to Superintendent, (starting in the fall of this year) said Helvik and Lamb were neck-and-neck for the job.
“They were even,” DoBell said. “Justin’s our man. They were both even with all the comments.”
DoBell said the district will pay $68,000 to $72,000 for the high school principal’s salary. Helvik’s energy and enthusiasm about education helped earn him the job.
Helvik grew up in Wibaux. He attended Rocky Mountain College in Billings where he played football and earned his undergraduate degree in biology education with a minor in chemistry. Helvik got his masters degree from Montana State University and is currently working on a Doctorate in Educational Leadership there.
The 31-year-old said he is thrilled to move to Three Forks in the summer for the job.
“It’s the only job I applied for because I told myself I’m in a good situation in Colstrip,” Helvik said. “But it’s always been my desire, my dream, to be in the Gallatin Valley.”
Helvik has been the Middle School Teacher at the Frank Brattin Middle School in Colstrip for three years. Before that, he taught high school science classes in Harlowtown.
Helvik’s love of education started at home. His father was also a high school science teacher before moving into a principal role and ultimately a superintendent position.
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Helvik said.
A self-proclaimed “outdoors fanatic,” Helvik plans to spend his free time climbing mountains, kayaking rivers and capturing it all through the lens of his camera. Applying for a job in heart of the great outdoors was a “no brainer,” he said.
Though he brings plenty of education experience both as a student and teacher, Helvik said he isn’t joining the Three Forks Schools team with any grand goals.
“I’m very much a blue-collar person,” Helvik said. “I’m not coming in with any mandates or initiatives. My first goal is to simply come in and meet with all the staff and get to know them and build that trusting relationship.”
When he starts the job, Helvik will have his office door propped open. He welcomes visitors to stop by and say hi.