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My heart has always been in Durango. Growing up I spent my summers here with my grandmother, staying in the house in which she grew up with her eight siblings, where she raised her four children, my mother included, and where she shared her love of education. My grandmother taught English at Durango High School for 20 years, inspiring countless students to never end sentences in prepositions, and her own children to become teachers: my mother and aunt.

In August of 2006 I moved back to Durango after college, enrolling my soon-to-be six year old son at St. Columba because it was family tradition. Noah, my now 21 year old son, built lasting friendships and moved grade to grade without issue. I learned the value of volunteering my time at the school and built my own lasting friendships that I cherish. I met my husband, Dan, volunteering at St. Columba. We blended our families and grew, I became a second mom to Jacob (17) who is now a Junior at DHS, and together we became parents to Benajmin (10), Lilah (8) and Owen (5).

As Ben and Lilah started attending elementary school at St. Columba we soon realized they both needed more than St. Columba could offer. In 2016 our daughter Lilah, at the age of three, was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder called Selective Mutism. This warranted and Individual Education Plan and speech services, which Durango School District happily provided, but it was limited because of Lilah's attendance at St. Columba. In 2018, at the age of seven, Ben was diagnosed with bilateral moderate sensorineural hearing loss. Ben had been struggling in school and Dan and I had hoped hearing aids would be the help that he needed, ignorant of the assistance that Ben really needed in the classroom to navigate learning with hearing loss. And a year later when Ben was diagnosed with severe ADHD we decided it was past time to find the best education for our children: Durango School District 9-R.

When I walked through the doors at Park Elementary in August of 2019 to meet with Marie Voss-Patterson, the principal, about enrolling my children I wasn't sure what to expect. I was emotionally exhausted after a summer of worry, switching schools is hard. But Marie was a port in the storm; an innate problem solver, she got to work right away. She helped me navigate to get my children's needs met. She looped in special education teachers Gretchen Willis and Courtney Ham. She placed Ben in Tim Fry's 3rd grade class knowing his patience, and placed Lilah in Mrs. Steven's class knowing her gentle kindness. Dan and I now have three kids at Park Elementary, Owen just started Kindergarten this year. And it's time for me to give back--it's time for me to advocate for the teachers, staff and students of the district the way that Marie and the staff at Park Elementary advocated for my family.

So what do I bring to the table? Usually a tasty dessert. But also years of experience in the non-profit sector: fundraising and volunteer management. I bring 21 years of parenting experience, five kids, and 40 years of lived experience. I bring not only a willingness to listen, but to learn.

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.  - Anthony J. D'Angelo

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