Principal Doug Hazen to leave Lovell Middle School

Lovell Middle School Principal Doug Hazen’s time in the Lovell School District is coming to an end. 

Hazen will be leaving his position at the end of the school year and begin his tenure as the principal of Columbia Falls Junior High in Montana next year. Hazen, originally from Wisconsin, has been a member of Big Horn School District No. 2 for the past 11 years, the last six as the principal of Lovell Middle School.

“This was my first teaching job and the only district I’ve ever known, it’s been wonderful,” Hazen said. 

Hazen said the move to Columbia Falls, Mont. will give his family new opportunities. 

Doug Hazen

Columbia Falls is located near Whitefish and Kalispell, Mont., two significant population centers in the state, creating a vibrant community for his family, Hazen said. Recreational opportunities  also abound in the area, with Glacier National Park also nearby. 

“There’s some skiing right there, we’re in the mountain. There’s some big lakes and rivers for fishing and swimming. There’s mountain biking, hiking, camping. It’s a little big of a larger school system. Just a few more opportunities for my kids and for my family,” Hazen said. “For us, it fits us well.”

Hazen said the foundation Lovell schools have given him has been invaluable. 

“It means the world to me, the relationships with staff, students, community members. I have not one negative thing to say about my time here,” Hazen said.  “As somebody just starting my career I couldn’t ask for a better start. I’m 34 and I’ve
had tremendous experiences most of my peers my age couldn’t even think about having, in teaching, administration and special ed.

Superintendent Rick Woodford said the district will miss the talents and passion Hazen brought to the district. His growth every year has been rewarding to watch. 

“He’s a highly motivated individual. He learned more every year, and used each experience along the way to grow. He’s grown into the kind of educational leader we value in our district,” Woodford said. 

The search for a new middle school principal will begin in haste, Woodford said. The district will advertise for the position for the next three weeks, and depending on the pool they draw, may keep the position open up to May 6. 

The hiring committee will be composed heavily of middle school staff, along with school board and administration members, Woodford said. A public forum to introduce candidates to parents in the district is being planned, according to Woodford. 

Woodford said there are many qualified within the district who could be a good fit for the position, but the district is equally open to outside candidates. The goal is to find the most qualified candidate. 

“If they need to compete with candidates from the outside, that is something they should do,” Woodford said. “It proves capability.”

Hazen will be difficult to replace, Woodford said, but the goal will be to find an administrator who can grow to become the kind of leader Hazen is within the district.

“We’re up to the challenge,” Woodford ssaid. “We’re likely to find someone who has the potential to grow into the educational leader Mr. Hazen grew into. We’re looking to help someone learn and grow.”

By Ryan Fitzmaurice