LAS CRUCES – Two opponents face off again for the seat of the Las Cruces District 2 Public Schools Education Board after competing for the temporarily vacant position three months previously.
Next District 2 School Board Member Terrie Dallman’s abrupt resignation on June 3, LCPS appealed to members of the community to fill the position. On July 6, the school board chose Pamela Cort at headquarters.
Henry A. Young was also vying for the vacancy, but placed fourth out of five applicants.
The two are back, running for the post in District 2, which is mainly the center of Las Cruces and Mesilla. It includes Central Elementary, Conlee Elementary, Hermosa Elementary, MacArthur Elementary, Mesilla Park Elementary, Tombaugh Elementary, Valley View Elementary, Lynn Middle, Mesilla Valley Leadership Academy, Zia Middle, Las Cruces High, and Rio Grande Preparatory Institute.
There are three LCPS school board seats up for election this year: District 1, District 2, and District 3.
Meet the other candidates:
Cort, 60, is a 31-year-old former teacher. Most of his career has been spent teaching French at Las Cruces High School.
The New Mexico native grew up in Santa Fe, often visiting Las Cruces where her mother was from. Cort started at New Mexico State University, then transferred to Washington State University to earn his bachelor’s degree in French.
After briefly working at a bank in Washington, Cort realized that banking was not for her and returned to NMSU to earn her masters degree in curriculum and teaching.
Cort taught in Albuquerque Public Schools for four years before meeting her husband and returning to Las Cruces to teach at LCHS in 1992.
When the vacancy arrived in June, Cort said she never thought about running for the school board until a friend suggested she apply for the temporary seat.
“I’ve attended school board meetings, a lot of them,” Cort said. “I feel like I’m too young to retire, but I wanted to get away from the classroom a bit, even though I miss it like crazy. I thought, you know what, I could really work on positive changes in education at the political level. “
Cort had less than a month on the board before she had to apply in August, but she felt it was important for her to try for the job and do the right thing for the students.
She said there was a steep learning curve to join the board. On September 21, Cort introduced his first resolution with the help of district administrators to schedule after-school activity buses for middle and high school students.
Cort said this resolution is just the beginning of his mission to create equity in the school district.
“Everyone’s brain works differently,” Cort said. “It is really important that the students have a community, that they have found their tribe in school, that they have a community or that they have that person who will help them with whatever they need. that our schools work very well with this. “
She added that creating equitable opportunities at school will help students feel comfortable finding a supportive community.
Cort said she fully supports the fair grading system and community school programs. She also agrees with the district’s COVID-19 safety procedures which follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although Cort retired from LCHS in 2019, she said she still has many LCPS connections that she hangs out with on a regular basis.
“I’ve been in class for 31 years,” Cort said. “I know what’s going on at ground level.”
Cort was named 2013 New Mexico Teacher of the Year. She said the experience first opened her up to education policy. She also used the corresponding scholarship to earn an Education Specialist degree at Walden University, which she completed in January 2019.
Henri A. Young
Young, 71, is primarily from Las Cruces, having moved here from Ruidoso around the age of 4. He attended Conlee Elementary School, Lynn Middle and LCHS while growing up.
Young briefly studied accounting at NMSU, but moved to California to earn his pastor’s certificate before graduating. He said he took a few education classes here and there while he was in California.
After 11 years in California, Young returned to Las Cruces. He has been the director and chaplain of Las Cruces Gospel Rescue Mission since 2017, and has volunteered and worked there for almost 20 years.
“I have a desire to help people in general, obviously, because I work at the mission,” Young said. “The real reason that I hope to accomplish is to see parents re-engage in the school system. Many parents have abdicated the right to really hold on to and be a part of the educational process.”
Young said the pandemic – especially mask requirements and vaccinations – has polarized parents, and he hopes to find a solution to reach common ground.
Young hopes to have more informal meetings with the public. He said he recently attended a meeting with SPC Superintendent Ralph Ramos and current Board Chairman Ray Jaramillo which he said was of great benefit to the community.
He also hopes to have more community-centered board meetings, where instead of taking place in the downtown Dr. Karen M. Trujillo administrative complex, regular meetings are held at various school gyms and cafeterias. This is a common practice in the Independent School District of Gadsden.
“If you see the needs in each individual school then you have a better picture of the whole, you can find the commonalities and pockets of diversity where more is needed in one school than in another.”
Young’s position is that he plans to observe for the first few months to a year to get a feel for what it’s like to be on the board before he jumps in and tries to turn things around.
He wants to listen to the community, ask questions and sometimes comment as he takes his marks. He offered some ideas on what he wants to see change over time if elected.
“There has to be an equal process to try to meet the needs,” Young said. “It takes more money. This is the other area that I would like to see addressed – after this year of audit, or a period of time – is getting more money for classrooms by offering can. -being early retirement for some administrators because if it doesn’t just come down to the classroom, and we are paying too much at the top, it does absolutely no good for the students. ”
Young wants to get more money for teachers and assistants and encourage parents to volunteer at their children’s schools.
Young said he would bring a new kind of thinking with his age – he’s the oldest candidate for the school board – and his ministerial background.
Miranda Cyr, a member of the Report for America Corps, can be reached at [email protected] Where @mirandabcyr on Twitter. Show your support for the Report for America program on https://bit.ly/LCSNRFA.