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Billings schools Superintendent Greg Upham announces retirement

Posted at 12:40 PM, Sep 30, 2022

Superintendent Greg Upham announced Friday that he will retire at the end of the school year.

Upham joined School District 2 in 2018 and navigated the district through COVID-19 and a mill levy.

He says announcing at this time gives the board plenty of time to find his replacement in time for next school year.

When he started his career in 1988, he says he did not envision becoming a superintendent and says he knows he chose the right profession.

Upham has seen just about everything in his nearly four decades as an educator, and his career has taken him all across Montana.

Upham started as a teacher in Browning and then Belt and Helena.

And that's where he became a principal and eventually an assistant superintendent before ultimately landing in Billings as the superintendent of School District 2.

"It's always about making people feel good about who they are and and taking chances and building resiliency and teaching empathy and all the things that our country could use," he said.

But after 36 years Upham is now calling it quits to be with family.

"I've got two grandkids and one on the way," Upham said. "And I've got a daughter that's getting married this summer. And so just a lot of family."

Upham guided the district through a very difficult time.

He says the two years during COVID were especially rough.

His decision to require masks in schools was met by strong opposition.

School board meetings grew heated but classes continued.

"It was a reminder for all of us about resiliency and everything isn't as easy as we thought it was," Upham said. "And boy, I'll tell you, we came together and we stayed in school and we did the right things and it was the most challenging two years of my professional career."

Upham also helped the district through tough financial times and advocated for the passages of several mill levies. Despite all the challenges he says he's enjoyed working as a teacher administrator, and even as a football and track coach.

"I've enjoyed the coaching," Upham said. "I enjoyed the competing. The relationships that you build in those environments are lifelong."

In a letter Friday, Upham informed educators of his plans thanking teachers for all that they do.

"I thanked them for dedication to their profession and our students," Upham said. "Just a lot of gratitude. I feel very, very fortunate and grateful to have had this opportunity."

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BILLINGS - Billings School District 2 Superintendent Greg Upham announced to staff Friday morning that he is retiring at the end of the current school year.

In the letter, Upham thanked school district staff and promised to "remain committed" to the school district until his retirement.

Upham began his time as superintendent of Billings schools in 2018 after having previously served as the Assistant Superintendent of Helena Public Schools. A Montana native, he began his teaching career in Browning and Belt before joining the Helena School District in 1992.

Here is the full text of his letter:

Dear Staff,

As with everything there comes a time for change. It is my plan to retire at the completion of this school year. I can't emphasize enough the respect I have for all of you and the appreciation that goes with your commitment to students.

If there is anything that the last couple of years has taught us is the importance of school and connection.

I am sincerely grateful to have been given the opportunity to lead School District #2 and am thankful for the relationships that have been cultivated throughout my tenure.

Please know from now until the end of the school year, I remain committed to the work of improving learning and making Billings Public Schools the best it can be.

Most Respectfully,

Greg