Linda Filpula retiring from school district

Jaci Webb Outlook Assistant Editor
Thursday, June 16, 2022
Long-time Laurel school superintendent Linda Filpula is retiring from the district on June 30.

Long-time Laurel school superintendent Linda Filpula is retiring from the district on June 30.

Retiring Laurel Public School superintendent Linda Filpula clearly remembers when she started in the district.

The year was 1993, and she was the new seventh grade math teacher at Laurel Middle School in what is now the administration building. Many people cringe when they think about teaching in a middle school. Students are full of energy that can’t easily be contained. But Filpula was ready with advice from her uncle, a middle school teacher in Butte: “First you establish order and then you teach.”

Later, when she became assistant principal of Laurel High School, and then principal of Laurel Middle School, Filpula passed that advice along to new teachers. “I always told my new teach

“I always told my new teachers to be firm, fair and consistent,” Filpula said. Filpula ended up finding

Filpula ended up finding her niche in the middle school math, teaching there for eight years. She also taught math at Laurel High School for two years before moving up into administrative roles. She became curriculum director and assistant superintendent, then in 2016, she because interim superintendent and then superintendent. She retires June 30.

Filpula grew up in Butte, the daughter of a diesel mechanic and a registered nurse. Even though her father was not able to finish high school, he understood the value of education and pushed all four of his children to take four years of math and science in high school.

“He said if you can do that, you can do anything you want,” Filpula recalled.

Math was Filpula’s toughest subject, but she kept at it. She entered Montana Tech in Butte to study engineering, but after two years she decided she needed to be around people, not laboratories. She transferred to University of Montana - Western and started earning her teaching degree. The other lesson her parents taught her was to support the schools.

“I remember voting in my first election. My parents walked me up to Hillcrest School to vote. They said, ‘You always vote in a school election. You always support schools because you need to invest in your community.’”

As Filpula prepares to leave her post, she reflected on the challenges and the triumphs of her long tenure, which included 29 years in Laurel and two previous years teaching in Idaho.

“The needs of these kids is so significant,” Filpula said.

It takes a cadre of specialists to help the students, from mental health staff to School Resource Officers. The schools offer programs, like the backpack program that allows kids to take a backpack filled with food home for weekends.

“You can’t teach a kid who is hungry or who witnesses violence the night before. We have kids whose parents are in prison or there is violence in the home.”

Students’ mental and physical health are important for schools to address. Programs and classes to better prepare students for careers and college have also taken great strides during Filpula’s tenure.

“We have dual credit classes and more technology education. Every year we add classes,” Filpula said.

Programs in health science careers and culinary careers have been expanded and there are more Advanced Placement classes that teach students coursework on a college level, earning college credits.

One other challenge facing the Laurel School District is addressing the need for a new elementary school. The foundation of the current Fred Graff Elementary is crumbling. In fact, one student put a foot through the floor there. The idea is to build a new school on property that the district already owns. A Capital Improvement Plan was voted on by the Laurel School Board earlier this year, and now the district is looking how to put it in place. Many of the buildings are overcrowded with annexes at three school buildings, Filpula said. Building a new school for grades three through five would eliminate some of that.

As the school district welcomes a new superintendent in July, Filpula is working on a plan to introduce him to the district, its successes and its challenges.

Her post retirement plans are simple -- spend more time with friends and family. Her father, who is in his mid-80s, still hunts deer and elk and Filpula plans to be there beside him in the field. She also wants to spend more time with her three children.



Have you gone to a city park this year?

The Laurel Outlook


You can find the historic archives of our paper here:


We use Google cookies to determine our demographic of visitors to our site. You can opt out here.

We also use Twitter Analytics to track clicks from our twitter feed.