TSD School Board Candidates Q and A

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TSD School Board Candidates Q and A

Telluride Middle High School

Telluride Middle High School

Nick Denesik

Telluride Middle High School

Nick Denesik

Nick Denesik

Telluride Middle High School

Johnny Wilcox, Staff Writer

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On the eve of election day, Telluride School District School Board candidates offer their insight.

Courtesy of Dylan Brooks
Dylan Brooks (incumbent candidate)

Q: Who are you and for how long have you lived in Telluride?

Dylan Brooks: I’m Dylan Brooks. My family moved here in 1976. I attended Telluride from K-12, graduating high school in 1989. I went to Georgetown University and then worked in London, Denver and New York before Dawn and I decided to move back to Telluride in 2001. We live in Lawson Hill with our 3 sons, Theo (second grade, Philip seventh grade, and Julien eleventh grade.

Q: How do you hope to contribute to the Telluride School District?

Brooks: I’ve spend my first two years as School Board Director, focused on ensuring that the school’s financial picture is solid, and that our teachers, staff, and buildings are adequately funded – I will protect our success and continue this work. Looking forward, I will continue to advocate for cessation/reduction programs to cut down on youth vaping; I will work with the superintendent and the town to create better traffic flow and parking for our students and staff; I will continue to advocate for more outdoor education and for internship and mentorship programs that allow our students to learn from the people and environment we are privileged to live amongst. More generally, we will continue to  have a positive learning environment – our schools FEEL good because our teachers are treated well, our students are listened to, and the community cares about the school’s success.

Q: What draws you to this position?

Brooks: I am a proud life-long Miner and I want to protect the special school that gave me such a great start on life. Because I have children working their way through each school now, I have a special window to see which things are working and which really are not. We need to prepare students for their best life. Not all our students need to be college-focused. Mike Gass and our board have made a lot of progress in broadening definitions of success and we will continue that effort while maintaining our excellence in scholarship and college readiness.

Q: What sets you apart as a candidate?

Brooks: I have a long history with the school district – as a K-12 student and (student body president 1988-89), a parent of three public school kids, and for the last two years as a school board member. I run a local business – Dylan Brooks Financial Planning. I’ve helped many teachers and staff to retire and to make financial plans they are still following. School district finance is quite complex, and I have spent a good deal of time developing an understanding of its constraints and possibilities. The school board’s largest responsibility every year is to approve a budget, and my knowledge in this area is valuable to our board in making informed decisions.

Courtesy of Jenni Ward
Jenni Ward, (incumbent candidate)

Q: Who are you and for how long have you lived in Telluride?

Jenni Ward: My name is Jenni Ward, and I am running for my second four-year term as a director for the School Board. I am a mother to three children who are students in the district in (seventh7, fourth and first grades). I grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and moved to Colorado in 1990 to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder and stayed in Colorado ever since. I lived on the front range for 11 years and moved to Telluride in the spring of 2001, so I have lived here for 18+ years.  I was a high school science teacher in Estes Park, Colo. before moving to Telluride in 2001 where I was a Telluride Academy instructor for 4 summers (2001-2005). I was also a Math and Science teacher at the Telluride Mountain School for 4 years (2001-2005), and at the Telluride Intermediate and Middle Schools for four years (2005-2007 and 2011-2013).  I currently work part-time as a Real Estate Broker for LIV Sotheby’s.

Q: How do you hope to contribute to the Telluride School District?  

Ward: I feel that I have many positive attributes and years of experience that can contribute to our school district.  I have a deep appreciation and respect for our teachers and staff, and want to do all that I can to support them so that they can be successful in their positions. This includes, supporting opportunities that allow us to offer competitive pay and annual pay increases when possible, build more affordable housing, and support our teachers to pursue innovative, creative curriculums; supporting opportunities for professional development and continuing education; and creating opportunities for open communication and collaboration between teachers, staff, students, and the Board. I’d also like to contribute by supporting opportunities to empower students to be more active participants in their education and discipline by allowing them to engage in planning and discussions in these areas. Also, as a board member, I will continue to contribute to the development of policies that create a safe, supportive community for all of our teachers, staff, and students.

Q: What draws you to this position?

Ward: I am a believer in public education, and want to make sure we continue improving and continue to be a successful district that offers challenging and creative programming. I also feel that we have some work to do towards meeting the needs of   all  of our students. I feel privileged to be a part of our current Board and would like to continue with our momentum to serve the students and staff of the district.

Q: What sets you apart as a candidate?

Ward: My experience as a classroom teacher, a parent to three students in our district, and a Board member for the past four years has given me unique experiences as well as a deeper understanding of the strengths of our District, as well as the particular areas where we can improve within our District.

Courtesy of Adam Chambers
Adams Chambers

Q: Who are you and for how long have you lived in Telluride?

Adam Chambers: My name is Adam Chambers, and I have lived in San Miguel County full-time for three years.  I moved to San Miguel County from Portland, Oregon and my family and I have lived in Kentucky, Washington, DC and Vienna, Austria.  I have a daughter in Telluride High School named Rhys Chambers, she is a junior.

Q: How do you hope to contribute to the Telluride School District?

Chambers: I hope to add a new and fresh perspective to the Telluride School District.  I’m a climate scientist by training and will utilize my analytical skills to help the school board make informed decisions.  I’m a rather analytical person and look forward to utilizing these skills to benefit the students of the Telluride School District.  I feel very passionate about including the students in the selection process of the next superintendent and will work to engage students in the hiring process.

Q: What draws you to this position?

Chambers: I am drawn to this position because I care deeply for our community.  The health of our community is directly reflected in the health of the school district.  I am fortunate to have lived in a wide variety of locations and also experienced the benefits of a public education.  The Telluride School District has a very fortunate opportunity, the previous school board members have worked diligently to serve the faculty, staff and students with a top-notch education opportunity.  I plan to use my analytical skills and my research abilities to help the Telluride School District grow and prosper.

Q: What sets you apart as a candidate?

Chambers: I’m different from the other candidates in that I have a variety of global perspectives that can help the Telluride School District provide global opportunities for our students.  I plan to involve the students in the strategic planning of the Telluride School District and I hope that my analytical skills can enhance the Telluride School Board.

Courtesy of Leonard Metheny
Len Metheny

Q: Who are you and for how long have you lived in Telluride?

Len Metheny: I have lived full-time in Telluride for almost 10 years.  I have a son (Will) in eighth grade and a daughter (Ella) in fifth grade.  I moved here from London, where I served as Managing Director of the European division of an education company called Hobsons, PLC.  Prior to moving to London, I founded and served as a CEO of a company called ApplyYourself in Washington, DC that provided online application and enrollment services to hundreds of universities.  ApplyYourself was the company that converted the Common Application from a paper-based product to an online service that is still used today by more than 800 undergraduate institutions.  Since moving to Telluride, I work as a consultant to education technology companies and help startup tech businesses.

Q: How do you hope to contribute to the Telluride School District?

Metheny: For years now I have been an engaged parent with the School, attending accountability meetings, and helping teachers and admin whenever I can.  I would love to take my service to the next level and serve on the Board.  I feel my 20+ years in the education field, combined with my experience managing businesses, will allow me to bring a diverse skill set to the Board.

Q: What draws you to this position?

Metheny: Telluride is a high-performing school.  Students, parents and teachers have high expectations (as they should).  If elected, I will work closely with the next Board to make sure the School continues being a leading school district not only in Colorado, but also the nation.  I belief firmly in teaching my kids by serving as a role model.  I stress to them the importance of civic duty and serving the community.  I cannot think of a better way to serve my community than serving on the Telluride School Board.

Q: What sets you apart as a candidate?

Metheny: I have a keen understanding of the high school to college transition having worked with hundreds of high schools and colleges for more than 20 years.   I have a strong financial background as well as years of managerial experience to contribute to the Board.  I am analytical minded but also very people oriented.

Courtesy of Cheryl Carstens Miller
Cheryl Carstens Miller

Q: Who are you and for how long have you lived in Telluride?

Cheryl Carstens Miller : I’m a 32 year resident.  I have raised three children here, all Long Haulers.  I currently have three grandchildren in District Preschool and Intermediate school.

Q: How do you hope to contribute to the Telluride School District?

Carstens Miller: I served previously as a Telluride School Board director from 2009-2015.  During that time we conducted two Superintendent searches, expanded the Intermediate School and introduced new academic programs such as Duel Immersion.

Q: What draws you to this position?

Carstens Miller: I feel my experience brings value to the current Board as we start a new Superintendent search.  We are a school of excellence but I understand that we can’t take that for granted as we move into the future. Educational needs are constantly changing.  As we work to meet new challenges we need to first do no harm.

I see a need to grow in the variety of offerings to better meet the needs of students who desire career and technical classes.  Since we don’t have unlimited funds we need to be creative in finding ways to offer those classes like the relationship we previously set up with Pinhead.

I am also proud to have supported AVID from the beginning working with another group of students that historically have been underserved.

Q: What sets you apart as a candidate?

Carstens Miller: I am motivated  by making things better.  I was inspired by participating in the hire of a consulting firm for the Superintendent search and want to thank the current board for including the candidates.