Hot Yoga, Managing the Budget, and Building a Bus Facility: The Life of Peg Monteith

Peg+Monteith+working+hard+as+interim+superintendent.

Sophie Baker

Peg Monteith working hard as interim superintendent.

Between yoga, overseeing student support systems, and now taking on the role of interim superintendent, it is needless to say that Peg Monteith has a lot on her plate. Somehow, she manages to juggle it all with her many years of experience in education. 

Mrs. Monteith has worked as an educator for over 40 years, and she first began her path in learning as a special education teacher in Laramie, WY. Here, she taught for 18 years before deciding that she wanted to go into administration, at which point she returned to school to earn two Master’s Degrees, one in special education. She then proceeded to attend the University of Wyoming to receive her Leadership Degree. At this particular point, Mrs. Monteith was the special education director for a school in Wheatland WY, and she soon found herself working for the Wyoming Department of Education. “That was a great experience, I learned a ton,” she shared. For the five or six years following, Mrs. Monteith became the special education director for the state. “That was way different than being in Wyoming because there’s so many more people. So from there, I came here because I fell in love and decided to move to Cody and marry Brian Monteith, and he had just retired as the superintendent here, so I started off as a special ed director.” Mrs. Monteith has worked in Cody for seven years since, and last week she was appointed as the interim superintendent. “It kind of turned my life upside down, and here I am trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing. It’s like drinking out of a fire hose,” she joked. 

Before she was appointed as interim superintendent, Mrs. Monteith supervised student support services, so her day consisted of working alongside special education teachers, building principals, parents of students with disabilities, and guidance counselors. She would also oversee the English language learners programs, so she would work to help students who are experiencing homelessness or who are homebound. “I’m actually still in charge of those things because there’s nobody in my place yet,” she revealed. “So I’m doing that and taking on this superintendency, so my days have been absolutely packed so far, and it’s only my third day.” 

The process of appointing an interim superintendent takes place with the school board behind closed doors. “I wasn’t privy to a lot of that. They asked me if I would be willing to serve as the interim in the event they needed me, and I assured them that I would.” On Friday, Jan. 24, the Board held another executive session and voted to ask Mrs. Monteith to serve in the role, an unexpected surprise for her. She will serve as interim for 18 months, until the end of June, 2021. Upon hearing the news, she was unsure of how to feel. “Mixed emotions, very mixed emotions. A part of me was thinking, ‘oh my gosh, can I do this?’ And another part of me was feeling very overwhelmed because I knew I would have to juggle both positions for a while. And another part was really excited to be in a role where I feel like I can touch the lives of all kids and support what’s going on for all kids. Not that same emphasis just on kids with disabilities, but all of you, which is exciting to me.” 

With a mere three days in her new position, Mrs. Monteith has endured many changes. “The biggest difference is working with the school board. The superintendent really works for and with the Board of Trustees. That’s really an important role,” she said. She explained that she is now responsible for understanding building maintenance, the construction of the new bus facility, the budget (which equates to around $43 million for the district), and working more closely with building principals. “There are a lot of things like that that are going to be different. Just add layers of working more closely with other superintendents and with the Wyoming Department of Ed. So it will keep me busy until we find somebody to take my spot.”

In the midst of the sudden change, Mrs. Monteith has already learned how difficult the superintendent position can be. She expressed her surprise at just how complicated the construction of the new bus facility is. “The planning and the collaboration with builders and the city and landowners, all of those things,” she said. She was also interested in examining the budget and where it all went. “It was interesting to kind of dig into that and see 90% of that $43 million is supporting teachers, so teachers’ salaries and all the support staff,” she shared. “Everybody that keeps the buildings clean, all of those kinds of things, so people are super important. And just learning where they all are and how best to support them, whether they’re driving the bus, serving food, or cleaning up our messes in the hallway.” 

Mrs. Monteith remarked that her favorite part of the position so far is working in close proximity with all staff members, including principals. She is also looking forward to working on state level projects as well as meeting with state legislatures. “I think my least favorite thing is probably being too busy. I really promised myself that I was going to work on my yoga practice-I go to a yoga class-but I am unable to go this week.” 

Mrs. Monteith uses yoga as a means of unwinding and taking time to relax. She relayed that it helps to relieve tension and stiff muscles. “I have been to the hot yoga, and I like the flow restorative class. I try to get to that one. I’m not very coordinated, so I have to be in the corner by the wall so I can hang on and not fall down,” she joked. 

As for what Mrs. Monteith hopes to accomplish as interim, she is optimistic. “I would really like to keep moving. We’ve got such great things going on in this school district, so just making sure that we have the support we need from the Board of Trustees to keep going forward. Making sure I understand where there are some pitfalls and barriers that we need to get out of the way to make sure things are what they need to be to support our students in the best way possible. I think we have what it takes to be a model district-top in the state-so it would be really fun to be able to say that in all areas we’re IT for the state of Wyoming, and I think we have all the right things to make that happen.” 

While she is excited about her new role, she also has hopes of retiring in the near future. “I’m willing to do this as long as the board needs me, but not into infinity because I really am hoping to retire.” 

Overall, Mrs. Monteith has thoroughly enjoyed her time within the school district. “I love Cody, I have had such a great experience here. I love the school district. I just think we have such a great community and such great kids. You guys are going to set the world on fire, and it really is fun for me to watch what you do here. Just knowing that you’re going to walk away and do so much, that piece keeps me going every day.” Her plate is most definitely full, but she is nothing short of qualified for the position. “Wish me luck because I’ve got my hands full. And don’t laugh at me if you see me at hot yoga and I fall down.”