COOLIDGE — Former Coolidge school teachers Kris Gillespie and Linda Heath are running a combined campaign to serve on the Coolidge school board.
The terms for Lisa Garrett and T.J. Shope expire this year but neither is listed as a candidate, write-in or otherwise.
Gillespie is running to retain her board position, and Heath is seeking her third term. Both are also write-in candidates for the Nov. 3 election.
“It has been my honor to serve my community in this capacity since 2014,” Gillespie said on her Facebook campaign page she shares with Heath. “Being a lifetime resident of Coolidge has given me the opportunity to grow up in the Coolidge school system, as have my husband, four children, and now my grandchildren. I graduated from Arizona State University with an education degree and I have spent the majority of my 30+ year teaching career in the Coolidge district. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with students of all ages, kindergarten through 12th grade, and now look forward to continue serving those students and the community as a governing board member.”
Heath served on the Coolidge board from 1986 to 1990 and again 2012 to 2014. She and her husband, Bill, have lived in Coolidge for more than 35 years. She also taught in the Coolidge system and in Florence and for Northern Arizona University.
“My background in education is long and varied. I graduated from ASU with an Early Childhood Education Degree and earned a Masters Degree in Elementary Education from NAU,” Heath says on the Facebook page. “During these uncertain times, our children, their teachers and support staff need all the help and encouragement that we can provide. As a longtime educator, I am prepared to use my knowledge and experience to facilitate our children’s education and their personal safety. First and foremost, I am a mother and grandmother. I know how frightening and uncertain the immediate future is and I want to make sure that our precious children are as safe as they can possibly be while they are attending school.”
At 19 years old, Diana Guerrero is only a little more than one year removed from high school, but she believes that gives her a student’s perspective as a potential school board trustee.
“I want to give the students more recognition because I feel like Coolidge has kind of shifted away from giving recognition for certain students,” she said. “We don’t do educational programs as much as we used to when I was growing up. I feel like in a small town it’s much more easier to give recognition for those students, just like award ceremonies, because I feel like if we give them award ceremonies for like perfect attendance, honor rolls or stuff like that they’ll definitely be more motivated to do those things. The high school has done scholarship nights and they should get honor roll programs and stuff like that as well.”
Guerrero is currently attending Central Arizona College studying dentistry and is working part time as a dental assistant in San Tan Valley. She hopes to work as a dental hygienist after college.
She is a Coolidge native and went through the school system from kindergarten to high school.
“I feel like Coolidge needs a young voice on the board to make decisions now with the whole pandemic,” she added. “We’re heading more towards technology, and I feel like it’s better for me to understand situations like that just because I am a student myself so I can definitely use my voice to make decisions in that way.”
Gillespie’s seat on the board is one of three to be filled through the election.
Adrianna Saavedra is listed as a third write-in candidate on the Pinal County Superintendent of Schools elections services page, but she told PinalCentral she has reconsidered running in the school board election.