Incumbent Jeanie Peters is running unopposed for the at-large seat on the Salida Board of Education.
She has been a member of the board for the past four years.
Peters’ background is in pediatric physical therapy, primarily in early childhood centers working with families and their children.
She said the experience shaped her in may ways.
“It required the wearing of many hats: a medical provider, an advocate for the family, an on-the-spot crisis interventionist or babysitter, a friend and a source of hope and support in hard times. My profession taught me we are all in this life together, and therefore our actions need to be guided by kindness, generosity, patience and compassion,” Peters said.
She said witnessing the pain and grief within parents when their child was diagnosed with a serious, disabling condition or, even worse, the loss of that child, was an experience she will never forget.
“My hard-line stance on practicing every strategy possible, including wearing masks and vaccination, to prevent the spread of COVID was born in that pain.”
Peters noted Salida School District is faced with many short-term challenges including managing and mitigating the risk to Salida students and staff from COVID-19 in partnership with school nurses and Chaffee County Public Health.
Mental health support is also a priority.
“Our students and staff have faced together far too many challenges the past two years. We need to make sure they are provided with the mental health support they need,” she said.
Peters said she believes as members of a global community, children will need an education based in local, national and global history, economics and cultural differences.
“They must be proficient in communication, both written and spoken, of their knowledge, personal experience and their thoughts, and dreams,” she said.
Other skills like the ability to think critically, to ask the right questions and the ability to listen deeply and in discerning ways are also important to Peters.
She said she wants these skills taught sequentially in a developmentally appropriate continuum throughout Salida School District.
She feels greater access to academic and career counseling is also important to give students a focus to their studies.
Other primary concerns include a lack of substitute teachers and school finances.
“In the broken educational finance system of Colorado we have to continue to work for higher salaries for all our staff,” she said.
“There is not a monthly board meeting that goes by where I do not see the challenging impact of inadequate, inconsistent state educational funding upon our capacity to educate.”
Peters said she sees a need to reassess graduation standards as a board and a community to make sure those guidelines reflect the skills Salida students will need upon graduation, whether they are entering a four-year university, the workforce or seeking certificates to help them in a career path.
Long-term goals include managing community growth and the accompanying growth in district enrollment numbers.
Of recent concern are the events of Sept. 23 at Salida High School.
“We need to understand why it happened and where we go from here as we learn from that experience,” she said.
“Our children are inheriting a world deeply challenged by a pandemic, the severe repercussions of climate change and growing social, economic and political divisions that threaten the cohesiveness of our country and the well-being and success of our citizens, Peters said.
“Children are our most precious resource and are deserving of our love, our kindness, our support and the best preparation for life that we can provide.”