UM Launches New Initiative to Inspire K-12 Students about Higher Education

February 13, 2015

MISSOULA – A new initiative at the University of Montana will connect UM faculty members with K-12 students, allowing them to preview the excitement and rigors of college life.

The initiative is called We Are Montana in the Classroom, and will launch Friday, Feb. 20, during TEDxUMontana. At the event, 75 Missoula-area high school students will experience backstage access to the speakers and their talks, which this year are centered on the theme of language.  

The cohort of high school juniors and seniors will participate in a dinner with TEDx speakers. The discussion will be moderated by UM Professor Steve Running. They also will have a leadership conversation with Missoula Mayor John Engen and participate in breakout sessions led by UM faculty members Dan Spencer, Erica Woodahl and Nathalie Wolfram. 

With funding from the Jane S. Heman Foundation, We Are Montana in the Classroom invited local teachers, principals and guidance counselors to nominate talented and motivated students to join the TEDxUMontana program. 

According to We Are Montana in the Classroom Director Holly Truitt, the goal of the evening – as well as for the broader initiative – is to provide a fun and intellectually stimulating environment while at the same time instilling in students a sense of belonging in higher education. 

“We are excited for all of these students to connect with faculty role models in higher education and to learn about the many different opportunities that await them in college and beyond,” Truitt said.

We Are Montana in the Classroom, a program of UM’s Office of Research and Creative Scholarship, places faculty members, graduate students and University professionals  in K-12 classrooms to inspire students about higher education and career pathways.*

For more information about TEDxUMontana, including tickets for the general public, visit

* This release was updated on Nov. 3, 2015, and contains an updated list of collaborators.

Contact: Holly Truitt, director of We Are Montana in the Classroom, 406-243-4872,