The rush is on to recruit and hire Montana teachers in Wyoming.

Rocchio is one of more than 400 teachers from Montana who have signed on to teach in Wyoming’s booming education industry in the past few years. The trend has school districts across the state — particularly in low-paying, rural districts — nervous about their ability to continue recruiting new teachers.

Melissa Rocchio hesitantly drove from Helena, Mont., to Gillette two years ago to interview for a teaching job.

Hesitantly, she said, because the Helena native and Carroll College graduate had her eyes set on teaching in the Helena Public Schools. Having been to Gillette only once before as a teenager, she wouldn’t have picked it as the place she would call home.

"I thought, ‘I’ll go practice my interview skills,"’ Rocchio said.

On her drive back home, the Gillette school district called her and offered her a fifth-grade language arts position that paid her $43,500 to start — nearly $10,000 more than what she could earn in Helena and nearly $20,000 more than what she could earn in a rural school district in her home state.

"I said, ‘I think I’m willing to take the risk and try something new,"’ she said.

This year, she will earn almost $50,000, which helps her and her husband, Matthew, who is a welder, afford a lifestyle full of sports and outdoor activities in Gillette.

Great Falls Tribune

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