Steamboat school board candidates recall their favorite teachers |

Steamboat school board candidates recall their favorite teachers

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — This fall's race for two open Steamboat Springs School Board seats was dramatically transformed Aug. 30, just two days before the deadline for submitting ballot petitions, when two new candidates turned in their paperwork, giving voters the opportunity to choose from among three women with diverse experience in education in November’s at-large election.

The top two vote-getters will fill the seats being vacated by Roger Good and Sam Rush, who did not opt to seek re-election to the board. The candidates include:

• Annie Camacho, who has worked as a counselor in two Colorado high schools and who grew up in a household where both of her parents were teachers.

• Mayling Simpson, who has been a teacher, and during a long career in international development, evaluated the reconstruction of 50 schools in Kosovo on behalf of Unicef following the Balkan War

“Listening authentically, and showing up with my whole self, is the best gift I could give my students.”

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• Katy Lee, an engineer with 15 years of experience working in the oil refining field, who credits two middle school teachers for opening her mind to the possibility of a career in applied science.

Although she has been in Steamboat Springs for just four years, Lee said, in that time her own children have attended Soda Creek Elementary as well as Steamboat's middle and high schools.

"I have solid project management skills and feel I will be able to quickly come up to speed on the budget and financial issues the board is facing," Lee said.

Simpson said she had been contemplating running for school board for about a year when she was made aware that as of Aug. 27, only one candidate had emerged for the two open seats in 2017.

"I (have) worked with many schools in developing countries, mostly in water and sanitation infrastructure, but also in issues concerning keeping girls in school and in health education," she said. "I also have experience managing large budgets and serving on international bodies such as the World Health Organization, where I helped make policy decisions."

Camacho said her first experience with a school board campaign came as a 10-year-old, "working the button-making machine with unrivaled enthusiasm."

"While I recognize there are many ways to be involved, I believe the public school system is the most valuable place for me to contribute my time, knowledge and experience… I would like to serve on the school board to support our educators in continuing to provide a top-notch education for their students,” Camacho said. “Steamboat Springs, as a whole, benefits when our schools thrive."

Simpson said both her mother and grandmother were elementary school teachers and one of her grandmother's favorite sayings was, "Ignorance is man's greatest enemy." However, it is her second grade teacher, Mrs. McDowell, who made the most lasting impression.

"She loved birds, and she was an artist," Simpson recalled. "Each morning on a large white canvas, at the back of our classroom, using colorful pastels, she drew a new bird sitting on a widely branched tree."

Simpson and her classmates learned the bird's name and its natural history.

"This no doubt started me on my path of loving biology," Simpson recalled. "It is amazing that I still remember her so clearly."

Lee said the hands-on teaching methods of her middle school  math and science teachers made all the difference for her.

"If not for their hard work, I am not sure that I would have become an engineer," she said. "I carried the knowledge that applied math and science are exciting subjects through high school and college."

Though Camacho said she had three very special teachers in her life, it was Ms. Wiseman, her third grade teacher, who boosted her self esteem.

She "convinced me that I was special (and it really counted because it wasn't coming from my family) and instilled in me a life-long love of reading," Camacho said.

But it was in graduate school, that Sue Harding showed her that "listening authentically, and showing up with my whole self, is the best gift I could give my students."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

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