Politics
6:04 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Montana's new First Lady narrowing her priorities

First Lady Lisa Bullock reads to students at Bryant Elementary in Helena on Monday
First Lady Lisa Bullock reads to students at Bryant Elementary in Helena on Monday
Credit Dan Boyce

Lisa Bullock is moving into her sixth month as Montana’s First Lady and said she is still exploring how she wants to use her new title.

Traditionally, the First Lady takes on a project, a focused effort during the governor’s tenure. For instance, former First Lady Nancy Schweitzer worked on getting kids interested in science and math. The First Lady is not an official state employee, but she does have certain resources available to her, like staff from the Governor’s office.

Bullock, a mother of three, has continued working since her husband’s inauguration as a part-time project manager for an IT company. She said she still has some research to do as to where she’ll focus her time as First Lady, but expects it will involve working with groups that specialize in early childhood education and hunger issues.

"I'm First Lady by default, really, because my husband won. I'm hoping the title helps me leverage what's already occurring because these people have been doing this for years and I can't presume to just jump in and figure I have all the answers."

    

On Monday, Bullock spoke to students at Helena’s Bryant Elementary. She is the state ambassador for a national contest put on by Scholastic, a major U.S. publishing company, to keep kids reading during the Summer. Kids log the amount they read and can win prizes from the contest. Bullock said it can help prevent what’s known as the ‘Summer Slide.’

“If a child leaves at the end of a school year, let’s say, reading at a third-grade level,” she said. “If they do not read during the next three months that could slide back to second-grade level, second quarter.”

Scholastic gave Bullock 500 books as the Montana ambassador for the Summer reading contest. She could choose any schools to receive  the books, but since Montana schools are smaller, she was able to split the donation between two schools. She chose the two schools in Helena with the highest number of low income kids--Central School and Bryant Elementary.

Each school’s Library will keep some of their 250 donated books, but most of them will go home this Summer with the students—for keeps.

“Putting books in the kids hands is such a gift from them to help prevent the 'Summer Slide,'” she said.