Meet Mrs. Komenda

I am proud to be a part of the Smith Valley community of learners 


I became the principal of Smith Valley School (Go Wolverines!) the 2010/2011 school year.  I stepped into the very big shoes of Harold "Mike" Welling.  Mr. Welling had been at Smith Valley School for over 30 years!  I am honored to have been selected as the educational leader of this awesome learning community!  What brings our story around full-circle is the fact that Mr. Welling's daughter was a student in my first-ever teaching assignment at West Valley School, his other daughter was a paraprofessional, and his granddaughters were attending Smith Valley School when I joined the team!

I taught at West Valley School (Go Warriors!), North and West of Smith Valley for 21 years .  I also taught at Fair-Mont-Egan (Go Bruins!) for one year.  I have taught pre-first through 5th grade.  I LOVE teaching, and I was very excited to continue teaching and learning in a different capacity as the educational leader for an entire school.  

I  am fortunate to  have lived in the splendid beauty of Montana my whole life! My grade school years were spent at Pleasant Valley School (Go..Country Kids.. we didn't have a mascot), a rural, one-room school.  I loved helping the teacher 'teach' in the lower grades, and would work to get my assignments done early so that I could do so. I decided in first grade that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.   I was the very top of my class in grade school (I love to say that.....)  Unfortunately, a point could be made that I was also the 'bottom' of my class, since I was the only one in my grade! :)

My home was 57 miles West of Kalispell.  We lived on a ranch 8 miles from our nearest neighbor, who also had the nearest telephone and electricity!  We were able to live pretty 'normal' because we had a generator to pump water into a holding tank, giving us running water. We also had a propane water heater, cooking stove, refrigerator, and lights. Since we didn't know any different lifestyle, it was normal for us!

My dad taught me to have a natural curiosity, and to love to learn. Sadly, he passed away in September of 2006. He loved to collect Native American artifacts, and I have inherited his collection. I share his love of this culture with students by bringing authentic artifacts in for them to see and feel.  In his later years, my dad also liked to make knives and arrowheads from rocks. This is called flintknapping.

I have been married to Brad Komenda since 1984. Brad builds log homes. In fact, we built our log home in 2004 and are continuing to put finishing touches on it every year since then. We have two boys--Tyler and Travis . 

Tyler graduated from  Flathead High School (Go Braves!) in Kalispell in 2009, has graduated Montana State University(Go Cats!), in Bozeman, Montana  with a degree in construction engineering.  He works for Barnard construction based out of Bozeman, and is working on a huge project outside of LasVegas.  We miss him LOTS! When he was in high school, he participated in the wrestling program at Flathead High!

Travis went to Glacier High School. (Go Wolfpack!), and graduated in June of 2012.  Travis is in his last year at Montana State University(Go Bobcats!).  His major is Civil Engineering with a minor in business.  Travis has worked the last two summers for Swank construction, kind of getting some intern experience. Travis likes to ski, loves hunting and outdoor activities, and was a pole vaulter in track in high school. 

We have a dog named Sitka.  He was born in December of 2015, and we got him in February of 2016.  He attends school at Smith Valley on a pretty regular basis.  In November of 2017, he passed an evaluation to be a 'Pet Partners' therapy dog in the capacity of when we volunteer as a team to go to nursing homes, schools, etc. to serve as a therapy dog.  Therapy dogs are NOT 'service' dogs.  Service dogs are trained to serve a specific individual, and when they are used in that capacity they can go wherever their handler goes (even to places that say, "no pets").  Therapy dogs are different in that they don't have a right to go where pets aren't allowed unless they have gotten special permission.

I went to college at the University of Montana (go Griz!) in Missoula. I started teaching in 1988 at West Valley (for a one year leave of absence) in a 2nd/3rd grade combination class. I taught the 1989/90 school year at Fairmont Egan just Southeast of Kalispell (a maternity leave) in the 2nd grade. I was offered a contract back at West Valley the next year, and I taught there through the spring of 2010. I taught pre-first/first combination classes for five years, and later taught 4th/5th grade looping. This was an awesome opportunity because I really got to know my students and their parents during those two years! We were able to build life-long friendships and connections. The very best part was that when we started 5th grade, we all knew each other and knew what to expect. We didn't have to establish relationships and rules, so we were able to cover more material!

In 2002, I went back to college to get a Master's Degree, also out of the University of Montana in Missoula (Go Griz!). I have a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership.  As Smith Valley grew, we got to a point where for proper accreditation we needed to have someone with a superintendent and a principal's endorsement.  So...... I went to school again in the summer of 2016 and 2017 to get my superintendent's endorsement - this time I went to Montana State University in Bozeman (Go Cats!).

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, boys and dog, reading good books, scrapbooking, bible study, basket weaving, reading the newspaper, hiking, looking for antlers, reading about Native Americans, learning things on the computer, hunting, fishing, cross country skiing, making things from wood, watching birds, photography, playing the accordion, writing in my journal, gardening (especially herbs to use in cooking!), cooking, reading children's novels, etc.....

~~ My philosophy is to fill my time with Living, Loving, Laughing and Learning!!  AND fill my life with NEON!

NEON is a theme that came up last year when some students were focusing on what irritated them about other students in the school.  I figured out a way to tell them that if they look for the negative, that that is what they'll see.  They both had neon on that day.  I told them that if, instead of looking for negative they started looking for positive--that that is what they'd see.  I told them to start looking for neon at that very moment.  It seemed like I had planted neon items in my office!  NEON was EVERYWHERE!  It has been there all along, but when we started LOOKING for it, we started seeing it all over the place.  This has become a great tool for me to rebalance my focus and attitude whenever it starts to falter.  Look for NEON, Look for POSITIVE!

~~ My favorite quote is: 
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies with in us." 
by: Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I also have a favorite oral history (Cherokee) retell--the story of the .  Two Wolves

SmithValley Admin,
Jun 5, 2010, 11:26 AM