Get to Know Your SCSD No. 1 Board of Trustee Candidates

Get to Know Your SCSD No. 1 Board of Trustee Candidates

In an effort to help better inform you about the people running for office, SweetwaterNOW has reached out to the candidates running for election in Sweetwater County School District No. 1 to share information about themselves and why they decided to run for office this year.

All candidates were invited to participate in the profile sharing prior to the election. You can view their responses below. [If you are a current candidate and don’t see yourself below, please check your email for the questions or email dave@sweetwaternow.com]

Carol Jelaco – Current Board Member and Board Chairperson

I’m seeking a second term for the Sweetwater County School District #1 (Rock Springs) Board of Trustees. I currently serves as the Board Chair.      I have a 34-year teaching career, 32 of those years in Sweetwater One.

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After retiring from teaching, I worked for the Wyoming Education Association an additional 10 years. Because my entire career has been in education, I have multiple perspectives. Those various experiences have resulted in a breadth of knowledge to help steer the District through the many changes facing education as a result of the pandemic and Wyoming’s economic downturn, potentially resulting in changes to the basket of goods and skills and how Wyoming schools are funded.

I’m seeking another term to complete the work started in my first term. Specifically, I state three priorities:
1)  Provide a safe environment for students and staff as the District navigates the COVID-19 pandemic challenges. By maintaining this safe environment, the Board hopes to keep our schools open for in-person instruction. Virtual education is available for those who prefer or even need it.
2) Work to support our hard working staff as we continue to offer the best education possible to our students. These are unprecedented times! I understand the heavy workload our staff is enduring and pledge to try to help reduce the stress. Further, I understand the additional stress on parents/guardians and the community as they, too, deal with COVID-19 and its consequences.
3) Advocate to ensure a continued cost-based funding model for Wyoming schools. As the Wyoming Legislature is working its way through the finance recalibration process, I pledge to advocate for a continued funding model that meets the needs of our students in the 21st century.

Gordon “Max” Mickelson – Current Board Member

My name is Max Mickelson and I am running to serve a third term as a trustee on the Sweetwater County School #1 Board. Seven years ago, I first filed to run for our board to answer this question; why don’t our students perform better? I know we have capable students, excellent teachers, committed administrators, and staff dedicated to fulfilling their duty to produce informed thinking citizens. We have made progress in addressing deficit areas including improving board functioning.

On August 5, I filed to address three specific challenges facing our district:

  • We are facing a budget crisis precipitated by our state financial situation. Informed board decisions and advocacy are key to preserving and improving the quality of our educational system. We must give primacy to keeping our employees whole.
  • Our district continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to make data-informed decisions that protect the social, mental, academic, and emotional needs of our students, employees, and community.
  • Based on community feedback, our district elected to transition to a four-day educational week. Careful monitoring and planning are needed to ensure this transition does not result in unintentional consequences to our students and community.

When I was first seated on our board, I spent six-months working to come up to speed on how our system works, funding, issues facing our district, and other issues. It took that long to have sufficient information to make informed decisions. With the immediate and current crises facing us, that knowledge is invaluable to governance.

I am a family man with two wonderful little girls. My wife is a brilliant and dedicated teacher. I serve on multiple boards, both state and local. I believe public education is the keystone of our society. I love Rock Springs and am fiercely proud to call it my home. I ask for your support to continue our progress as a board and district.

If you would like to visit further, please call 307-389-9169 or send me an email at gmick3@gmail.com.  

Cammie Pollastro

I was born and raised in Castle Dale Utah, a small town in South Eastern Utah. I come from a long line of educators. My mom owned and operated her own preschool. My father is a high school teacher, as was his father. My maternal grandmother was a school teacher and her father was the principal and taught several grades at a small elementary school in central Utah. I was taught, or possibly brainwashed, at an early age that the most important thing a person can do is learn how to learn.  

I attended the College of Eastern Utah in Price Utah where I earned an associate’s degree, and then transferred to the University of Utah where I studied Mass Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations. While I was a student at the U I got a job working in the Registrar’s Office. I loved interacting with the students and helping them navigate the complexities of student services at the University. After graduation I continued my employment at the U where I had the privilege to work the best directors and mentors in higher education. From my experiences there I learned how to create student-centric processes, how to implement cutting edge online student systems, how to design and deliver campus-wide training programs, and the best ways to collect and analyze data.   

In the fall of 2008 my husband was offered a job in Rock Springs. Shortly after relocating I was accepted to the Master’s of Science in Education program at the University of Wyoming. I specifically studied instructional design and technology, and focused my master’s thesis project how to identify if gaps in workplace performance are education and training deficiencies or technology deficiencies; and how to create instructional design solutions to address both issues.   

Since October 2012 I have been employed at Western Wyoming Community College. The small community college environment has helped me expand my skills by providing me with opportunities to work in many departments and to fill many roles including, student success coach, grant researcher and writer, workforce trainer, curriculum designer, and adjunct faculty member. I am currently the coordinator of Institutional Effectiveness where I oversee the institutional program review and assessment processes and serve as a team member and consultant to improve processes and provide data analysis to the campus community.  

I believe that my professional and educational background make me a strong school board candidate. I am committed to education in all of its forms and believe that the most advanced technology in any classroom is still, and will always be the human brain. I am committed to listening to the concerns of parents, students, administrators and teachers. From building my career in public education, I know where educational funding comes from and I feel strongly about reviewing budgets and being a faithful steward of taxpayer dollars. I have a talent for building consensus among those with differing viewpoints, and believe that there is unity in diversity.   

I am not afraid to ask questions and to make data-informed decisions. Our state is facing unprecedented financial shortfalls. Every educational organization will feel the fiscal impacts for many years to come. I have the creativity and communication skills to ask the right questions, propose innovative data-informed solutions, and work with people regardless of their position. I believe that there are opportunities to make a difference in this school district and I am willing to try. 

Stephanie Thompson – Current Board Member

I’m Stephanie Thompson and I am married to Steven Thompson and we have two boys, Matthew, 10, and John, 8. One of my son’s has an Individualized Education Program. For more than 18 years, I’ve worked in Sweetwater County as a journalist and I am currently the Community News Director at SweetwaterNOW.

It was a difficult decision deciding whether or not to seek re-election to the board. It came down to looking at where the district has been while I have been on the board, and where it’s going.

Looking down the road, I see the district still dealing with and trying to navigate its way through the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, cutting the budget by at least 10 percent, continuing to monitor the progress of the Satellite School, preparing for accreditation, and planning the 4-day alternative schedule all while still trying to deal with the day-to- day struggles that come up.

During my time as a trustee, I have not hesitated to volunteer to serve on numerous committees, including transportation, wellness, policy, climate survey, negotiations, and the Region V Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

I have always listened to concerns, looked at research, reviewed data, and anticipated unintended consequences before making decisions. I want to continue putting all children first when making tough decisions. I also volunteered to serve on special task forces when the district needed them, including the Cost Savings, Strategic Planning, and the Smart Start Reopening Task Force.

I have attended as many Wyoming School Board Association trainings as possible. Not only have I become a WSBA Certified Board Member, but a WSBA Master Board member. I’m dedicated to getting the education and training I need to be an effective board member for this district.

We were also able to partner up with the Sweetwater Education Association to host an online forum for the SCSD No. 1 Candidates. You can watch below to hear the candidates answer questions from the SEA.