Rob and Terry Ryan and Hamilton High School – a successful collaboration. "We want to keep our kids here. We want to make our kids better thinkers." What can you do to help?

"We want to keep our kids here." How many times have you heard that refrain? How often have you actually done something about it? Rob and Terry Ryan have again put their money where there heart is by developing a major relationship with Hamilton High School in Ravalli County, Montana through their STARS (Science and Technology At ouR Schools) Foundation.

In 2005, they introduced themselves to the school leadership and asked what they could do to improve technology and education excellence in math, physics and biology. As successful business people they approached this as they would a startup. How could their resources be used to maximize success?

They interviewed teachers to see who had the best ideas for incorporating state of the art technology and teaching methods for classes like Intro to Biotech and Forensics. Here is the story of that effort and their very generous response:


Rob and Terry Ryan donate $100,000 to equip science classrooms in Hamilton, Montana

Rob and Terry Ryan’s STARS initiative ( Science and Technology At ouR Schools) Gifts Computers to Math Lab at Hamilton High School.


In late 2006, they again came back to Hamilton High and asked for proposals to further increase the technology available to the teachers and students. The response was impressive. How about a Vernier Spectrometer so the kids could see the analysis of light for themselves instead of relying on what the books said they should see? And wouldn’t it be wonderful to view the results on computer monitors mounted on the walls of the classroom? Why not add on the Odyssey software so that everyone could see the results? How about more smartboards (whiteboards that can be saved and printed for future reference). How about more microscopes with digital cameras that connect to monitors so you don’t have to squint and pretend that you see the microscopic bugs? To these, and many more requests, the Ryans said "Yes!".

While all of this technology is outstanding, Rob and Terry wanted to make sure the teachers could use it more effectively. So they asked for proposals on the best examples of curriculum and training available for computer and technology assisted education. Candidates include Cornell University, and the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Both are now under evaluation by Hamilton High biology teachers Tom Schmit and Marie Antonioli who will be attending one of their multi-week programs. Rob and Terry are also funding both biology teachers to completely rewrite their labs to incorporate the new software and equipment so that the kids get the fullest advantage possible from these gifts. Terry said, "We hope to make this new curriculum into the state prototype. Tony Favero, the Physics and Chemistry teacher at Hamilton High School is already a member of a U of M committee working on updating the Montana State prototype curriculum. He will assist our program by providing the pathway to promote these new classes statewide."

"Rob and I could not accomplish these important goals without the efforts of the truly outstanding, dedicated science and math teachers Hamilton Schools are so fortunate to have!" said Terry Ryan.

All of this has provided unanticipated benefits to the Bitterroot Valley. As Glaxco Smith Kline and the Rocky Mountain Labs have continued to expand "GlaxoSmithKline looking forward to 100 new hires in Ravalli County" . The companies have contributed equipment to Hamilton High but it took the additional support from Rob and Terry to develop facilities that are capable of training the employees both of these institutions need now or will need in the future.

In collaboration with the University of Montana’s College of Technology, Hamilton High is now the site for comprehensive adult education classes for these and the other companies that will spinoff from their research.


Biotech boom: As Hamilton businesses expand, interest in field grows. UM creates program to train lab workers for GlaxoSmithKline and Rocky Mountain Labs


Rob and Terry Ryan have a simple goal. They’d like to help provide the very best educational opportunities possible in math and science for the future leaders of Montana.

Terry Ryan said, "The more we learn about GSK and Rocky Mountain Labs and their current expansions, the better we think the opportunities are to turn the Bitterroot Valley into a biotech corridor and keep some of our best kids here with really good career opportunities." Through their ongoing support of Hamilton High, they hope to encourage others in Montana to contribute to their local schools. After their first round of funding, there were two similar gifts from other entities to public schools in the Bitterroot. The goal of Superintendent Dr. John Matt and Principal Kevin Conwell is to develop a state of the art educational facility that will be the benchmark for Montana.

"We are very grateful for their continued support. The impacts of their generous donations have had a real positive impact on our students. In addition we have been able to offer classes to adults here at the school who are training to do lab tech work at RML or GSK. Previously they would have had to go to Missoula to access a lab that is well enough equipped to handle the program. That was an unexpected advantage of the Ryan’s contribution." Superintendent John Matt

MATR hopes that many more successful individuals either living in Montana or interested in seeing the state succeed will emulate the Ryans’ generous contributions. The future of Montana lies with our children.

Math teacher Mark Albert said it very well, "We want our kids to be better thinkers." What a very simple yet profound legacy to leave.

Better and more educated thinkers equals a better Montana.

What can you to do to contribute to the future of the children of Montana?

To learn more about STARS, please call 406-363-0164 extension 6 or e-mail

"The State with the Best Education Wins!"


I wanted to take the liberty of posting a letter to the editor that appeared in the Ravalli Republic:

To the editor,

I was truly thrilled to read about the extraordinary contribution that Rob and Terry Ryan have made to science education in the Bitterroot Valley with their “Dream Classroom” contest. The science teachers at Hamilton High School presented to the Ryans a winning proposal that will fund state-of-the-art science classrooms. This will make it possible for generations of high school students in Hamilton to study life and physical sciences with the latest equipment and technology. The knowledge and the skills the students acquire will equip them well to pursue advanced opportunities and become leaders in the sciences. Mr Ryan correctly observes that “more must be done to equip young Bitterroot students in the classroom so they can be tomorrow’s leaders.” This is the proper focus of education and all of our local schools should adhere to it. Not to focus on the classroom shortchanges our kids and ultimately our communities.

As Mr Ryan noted, there is a rich tradition of research and technology in the Bitterroot Valley, including the Rocky Mountain Labs and the private lab that is now part of GlaxoSmithKline. For the past several decades, I have had the distinct pleasure of mentoring students from all our valley high schools in science programs. They have been uniformly top-notch and intellectually competitive with students from anywhere in the country. Now some of these students will have lab facilities commensurate with their talents. We can hope that some of them will eventually staff the outstanding research facilities in our area.

Therefore, I would like to applaud the Ryans for their vision and for their faith in the young people of today. Rob Ryan has a reputation as a shrewd investor. I am confident that this new investment is equally shrewd and will also pay substantial dividends.


Marshall E. Bloom, M.D.

Associate Director for Rocky Mountain Laboratories

Division of Intramural Research

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

National Institutes of Health
Rocky Mountain Laboratories

903 South 4th Street

Hamilton, MT 59840

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