Three seats are available on the El Centro Elementary School District board. The incumbents, Patti Dunnam, Chuck Fisher and Michael Minnix, are facing challengers Andrew Arevalo and Frances Terrazas.
Name: Andrew Arevalo
City of residence: El Centro
Family: Fiancée, Stephanie Vizcarra
Current employment: Elementary teacher
Political experience: Currently serving on a panel for the U.S. Department of Education to address distance learning, hybrid models of instruction, and 21st-century education
Employment history (last 10 years): McCabe Union Elementary School District, San Diego State University Research Foundation
Other affiliations/memberships/board positions: Current director of innovation for Imperial Valley CUE (IVCUE), mentor to AmeriCorps Borderlands Imperial Valley, and e-sports director at McCabe
Awards/Recognitions: 2020 National Fall CUE Conference keynote; 2020 K-12 Ed Tech Magazine Top 30 Education Influencers in America; 2019 National CUE Emerging Teacher of the Year; 2019 Recognized in Forbes as a Top Influencer in Education; 2019 Carnegie Foundation Panel Invitee for InnovateEDU – (Brooklyn, NY)
Education: American College of Education, M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction – 2016; SDSU-IV: Teaching Credential – 2014/2015; SDSU-IV: BA Liberal Studies with English Authorization – 2012/2014; IVC: AA Liberal Studies – 2011
Educational Conferences I’ve Presented At: CUE Spring Virtual Conference – 2020; Future of Educational Technology Conference (Miami) – 2020; San Diego County Office of Education – 2019; San Gabriel Valley CUE – 2019; Ed Innovate Live (University of San Diego) – 2019; Learnfest ATX (Austin) – 2019; Ed Spark (Milwaukee) – 2019; CUE Bold Symposium (Carlsbad) – 2019; Future of Educational Technology Conference (Orlando) – 2019; Silver State Conference (Nevada) – 2018; CAP CUE (Sacramento) – 2018
Reasons for running and top issues: As a current, practicing elementary educator, I am running for a seat because I am unequivocally in the best position to understand, empathize with, and lead El Centro Elementary School District. I understand exactly what our stakeholders are facing amid these uncertain times because I’m living through distance learning with my own students. At the same time, I truly want what’s best for my home. I’d like to be part of the solution in our community, so that I can help address the systemic issues we are facing.
My top three priorities are bridging the educational technology gap, increasing math and science proficiency, and introducing personal finance curriculum.
COVID-19 has accelerated the use of educational technology – drastically altering 21st-century education as we know it. Parents, teachers, and students are overwhelmed, under supported, and many feel like they’ve been left behind. I’ll make sure our stakeholders are provided with sustained professional development in order to support and increase fluency in educational technology for the years to come.
The reality is that 67 percent of El Centro Elementary students are failing to meet the basic standard for math comprehension and 80 percent are failing to meet the basic standard for science comprehension – now add in the learning loss due to COVID-19. I’ll bridge this dismal gap by ensuring our students, families, and teachers are heard, advocated for, and supported with access to high-quality professional development in STEM, while creating more classroom opportunities for hands-on project-based learning activities.
Students are entering our local workforce and community without having a basic understanding of how to save a dollar, avoid consumer debt, or manage their personal finances. I’ll introduce a district-wide curriculum to help develop financial literacy in order to give students a greater chance to compete globally and/or to create businesses locally.
Name: Patricia “Patti” Wilson Dunnam
City of residence: El Centro
Family: Husband, Jack Dunnam; son, Michael Foss, his wife, Michele; granddaughter, Brittani Foss Abubo, and husband, Arron; grandson, Michael Brandon Foss, and wife, Heather; and great-granddaughter, Dorothea, 3.
Current employment: Retired school teacher, 36 years, from El Centro Elementary School District.
Political experience: El Centro Elementary School District board member for nine years.
Other affiliations/memberships/board positions: Involved in Christian education for over 40 years, children’s pastor, Sunday school, Christian Kids Camps and many other children’s outreaches. American Cancer Society, Relay for Life,
Education: Attended El Centro Elementary Schools kinder through eighth grade; graduated from Central Union High School; A.A., Imperial Valley College; B.A., San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus, Calexico; student teaching, Azusa Pacific University; M.A., United States International University
Reasons for running and top issues: The reason I am re-running for the office of trustee in the ECESD is my passion for education and love of children! I want the very best for every student no matter their educational needs, especially in the situations we are facing now! I believe decisions should always be made with the students’ best interest in mind. Having been a classroom teacher for more than 36 years and substituting for the last 12 years I know firsthand what is necessary for a well-rounded and successful education.
I believe academic achievement is absolutely important. As a trustee for the last nine years I have strived for academic achievement by using state approved curriculum and programs that meet the students’ personal needs. My plan is to continue raising academic achievement with high quality curriculum, and programs that meet each students individualized needs. Offering genuine support to teachers and providing them with the essential and necessary supplies will continue to implement the highest quality education for each student is my ultimate goal! We will continue to meet students with any special needs with counselors at every school and psychologist being available.
I believe all decisions should reflect on all students’ individual needs and what will help them to be successful at their education level.
I believe everyone who is part of the district is valuable in order to create a successful district!
As a school board member, I am available at any time and like to hear from everyone. I like to keep in touch and listen to all employees.
I am passionate about kids and what is best for them to give them the best education they deserve! I would like to continue making ECESD the best district and helping the student to receive outstanding education they deserve!
Name: Charles “Chuck” Fisher
City of residence: El Centro, CA
Family: Married to Carol Fisher, two adult daughters and six grandchildren
Current employment: Retired educator
Political experience: Currently serving on the ECESD board
Employment history (last 10 years): Retired, served several long-term substitute administrative positions
Other affiliations/memberships/board positions: Court Appointed Special Advocate board president, Kiwanis board member, board member and past president of the Imperial Valley Desert Museum Society, board member of Vo Family Neighborhood Medical Clinic, president of Imperial Valley Investment Club.
Education: B.A., M.A.
Reasons for running and top issues: I have education in my DNA. My family is made up of educators from kindergarten teachers to college professors. My wife is a retired educator, and both my daughters are educators working with students with special needs. I am aware of the trials and tribulations of distance learning for all students including special needs, at risk and English Language Learners from listening to my daughters, other educators, and my grandchildren, who are students, as well as other parents.
My employment in education began as a classified employee. Then, I became a credentialed teacher and taught elementary school for 18 years. After earning my master’s degree and administrative credential, I became a site principal and held that position for 18 years at three different school sites. I was privileged to belong to all three employee groups within the school district.
During my time with ECESD, I have assisted in designing two elementary schools. I was then most fortunate to be chosen to open one of them. I was the first principal at Sunflower Elementary School. My administrative experience has allowed me to become familiar with local, state, and federal monies as well as both site and district budgets.
Although I am retired, I keep up on current trends in education. I have served several long-term substitute administrative positions with both Imperial Unified School District and Brawley Elementary School District.
I am actively involved in our community in many ways; I am currently the board president of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a Kiwanis board member, board member and past president of the Imperial Valley Desert Museum and board member of VO Family Neighborhood Medical Clinic.
I hope to continue in promoting ECESD and the many innovative programs we have implemented.
Name: Michael R. Minnix
City of residence: El Centro
Current employment: Retired educator with El Centro Elementary School District
Political experience: El Centro Elementary board of trustee member for nine years
Employment history (last 10 years): Principal of Lincoln Elementary School, El Centro, 16 years; school board member, El Centro Elementary School District, current board president
Other affiliations/membership/boards: 44 years of public service to the community. Classroom teacher – 19 years. Principal – 16 years. Board of trustees – El Centro Elementary School District – nine years. Commissioner on the Imperial Valley Housing Authority. Appeals board, city of El Centro. Pastor of a local church. Poll worker – Imperial County Elections Department.
Education: Graduate of Central Union High School – 1972; graduate of Imperial Valley College – 1974, AA degree; graduate of San Diego State University – 1976, BA degree; United States International University-San Diego, – 1980 – MA degree; National University – 1992, MA degree; University of Redlands –1994, MA degree
Reasons for running and top issues: My experience! I have 44 years of public service to the community. Teacher 19 years, principal 16 years, and a board member nine years. My public service to the community is impeccable, commissioner on the Imperial Valley Housing Authority. Pastor of local church. I was born and raised in El Centro and attended local schools.
I am committed, dedicated, a strong leader, and a visionary. I have a proven record of service to the El Centro Elementary School District. Current board president of ECESD for two consecutive years. I’m accessible to parents, and to the community. I have a vision for the district to continue improving the quality of education in the El Centro Elementary School District. I want to continue making improvements at school sites and building facilities to accommodate student growth. I was instrumental in passing a bond to build a new school in the Victoria Ranch area. We’re currently constructing a new gym/cafeteria/multi-purpose room at De Anza Magnet School, and I want to continue providing academic student support to improve student performance and enhance the quality of instruction for teachers and support staff. I want to continue providing professional development training for all stakeholders, including parents, and grandparents in assisting their children.
As a candidate for the El Centro Elementary School board, I am committed to our community and the safety of our students, and staff as the most important determining factor as a candidate for the board of trustees.
After serving nine years on the El Centro Elementary School board, I am running to retain my seat and continue working hard at making a difference in the lives of students in the El Centro Elementary School District. As a candidate, I feel that my background and experience in education has prepared me to serve as a member of the board of trustees.
I have a total of 44 years’ experience in the education field, serving as an elementary school teacher for 19 years and principal for 16 years. As an educator, I understand the concerns of the classroom teachers and the commitment required, to obtain academic student success. I will continue to work hard at improving student performance and will be committed to addressing parent concerns and finding solutions that are in the best interest of all El Centro Elementary School students. Vote to re-elect Michael Minnix, El Centro Elementary School board.
Name: Frances A. Terrazas
City of residence: El Centro
Family: Married to Jack Terrazas; four children, and three granddaughters and one great grand-daughter attending ECESD
Current employment: Retired and part-time district school psychologist at Brawley Union High School
Political experience: Thirteen years’ experience as an ECESD board member
Employment history (last 10 years): Director of special education and school psychologist and retired four years while helping care for my husband due to illness. Returned to work part-time as a school psychologist.
Other affiliations/memberships/board positions: Membership at National Association of School Psychologist; prior coordinator for Las Hermanitas Program for MANA; ASES volunteer for four years teaching ECESD students how to quilt, loom knit scarves and candle making (I provide all the supplies at no expense to school or students). Volunteer at our local Sure HelpLine.
Education: Bachelor’s degree and multiple subject teaching credential with emphasis in BCLAD at San Diego State University. Master of Arts in education and counseling credential and administrative credential from Point Loma Nazarene University. Education specialist degree in psychology and school psychologist credential at Chapman University.
Reasons for running and top issues: The students of ECESD, including my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, are my primary motivators to re-seek the board position. I want to represent the students and their parents. I do not seek public office to get a stipend or benefits but to seek to right wrongs and participate in improving the educational opportunities to our students.
I also decided to run because we have entered some very challenging times within the El Centro Elementary District. We have faced difficult times before but never a pandemic, and I am the most experienced person of the five candidates running for office for this position. Besides having 13 years of board member experience, our prior board members (not incumbent candidates) went through trials and tribulations where very difficult decisions and issues were needed in terminating employment of a prior superintendent and hiring a superintendent that initiated the healing process of the El Centro Elementary School District. Beyond my experience, I have a proven record as an advocate for children and the district. I am the most well-rounded candidate running for ECESD board with my combination of experiences and a vast network to help guide ECESD into a year of recovery. I also believe that being the only Mexican-American female candidate adds a nurturing perspective to help the parents and in putting students first. Top issues are to secure full implementation of the ECES District’s Educational Plan and Safety Plan to keep our children and staff safe. I plan to roll up my sleeves and go to work as hard as possible to help the ECESD students get the best education and positive experiences to become happy and accomplished citizens. I will be working to continuously improve our school district.
This story is featured in the Oct 08, 2020 e-Edition.