Patrick Cates

 Patrick Cates

Senior Manager for
Student Support Services

Work-Related Duties:

  1. Provide leadership and assistance to the four branches of the unit - Special Education, School Nutrition, Traffic Education, and Coordinated School Health
  2. Direct collaborative efforts of department staff across the agency to ensure streamlined service delivery of programs and services to districts.
  3. Interact with educational advocates and other agencies to ensure effective communication on available services, guidance documents, and available resources, etc.

Patrick Cates, Student Support Services Senior Manager, is a proud product of a quality Montana public education. Helena provided him with his K-12 education while growing up in an incredible place. After graduating from MSU with an elementary teaching degree, his future wife’s career took them to the Billings area. Patrick’s teaching and leadership career exposed him to the wide variety of schools and systems that exist in Montana. He taught in an independent K-8 school outside of Billings. During Patrick’s time as a principal, he was fortunate to work with schools at all levels in Montana (Bridger, Laurel, and Belgrade). These experiences provided him with great insight into what the needs are in Montana’s schools and how they operate, from Class C to AA schools.

Patrick’s family moved back to the western half of the state five years ago, where they love to do just about anything outdoors. Two of his favorite activities are fishing and rafting. His family is also very interested in water activities - rafting, paddle boarding, and kayaking. Both of Patrick’s children will be in high school next year. With two kids this age, they are heavily involved in sports and have become well-versed in the highways of Montana.


Tarryn Erickson

Administrative Assistant

Work-Related Duties:

  1. Work with Coordinated School Health, School Nutrition Programs, and Traffic Education staff
  2. Provide customer support by phone, and email.
  3. Assist with planning workshops, preparing direct billing/requisitions, and make website updates as needed.

Tarryn Erickson, Administrative Assistant, is a Helena native who grew up in East Helena. She is currently enrolled in Academy of Art University working towards her Bachelors in Video Game Development with an emphasis on Character Concept Art. Her hobbies include digital art, reading about history or mythology, playing games. Outside of work she can be found either downtown with her friends or with her family in East Helena.

Student Support Services


The Student Support Services staff work in collaboration with schools, families, service agencies and staff from across the OPI to improve educational outcomes for all students through supports and general supervision of educational programs for students. Our staff is skilled and knowledgeable in early childhood education, supports for high-ability/high-achieving students, and supports and services for students with diverse learning needs. Please use the links below to learn more about the programs in Student Support Services.