MEET MICHELLE “MINDY” THOMAS
I'm ready to improve students’ education and school experience in our district. As a young, single mother, I learned early on how to manage many responsibilities. I worked my way through school, earning a BS in Forestry Science, with a minor in Geology, and an Administrative Support Certificate. I was awarded many scholarships and earned a place on the National Dean’s List for scholastic excellence.
Later, I worked at NAU and helped establish the Flagstaff Christian School. With a desire to be more involved in the community, my husband and I founded a Cub Scout Pack and a Boy Scout Troop; our Cub Scout Pack was one of the highest earning packs in the state. I also started my own business, where I shared my love of music and teaching.
I’ve lived in Flagstaff for 28 years, my husband’s family for three generations. My father was an Army Green Beret, my father-in-law a soldier in the Navy, and my husband was a Wildland Firefighter. We’ve been blessed with 4 sons, 2 of them active-duty Marines, and a daughter-in-law who is also a Marine. Our youngest son was just sworn into the Delayed Entry Program for the Marines.
Much of our family’s time and effort is dedicated to the betterment of others, especially young people. A healthy, well-structured foundation for children and youth is severely lacking in our school district. I’ve been listening to students, parents, and teachers who do not feel heard by the very leaders who swore an oath to serve them. So, I’ve decided it’s time for me to step up and be a voice for them.
BUILDING BACK TRUST
My name is
Michelle (Mindy) Thomas. I am running for FUSD school board.
I am passionate about investing in Flagstaff and our young people.
Our school district is missing the most important part of public education — maintaining instructional standards that teach the next generation to be skilled critical thinkers, in turn preparing them to make well-informed choices in their lives and careers.
1. Financially Responsible
FUSD is in financial crisis, our district will be paying of a public debt of $80.5 million until 2036. Our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are in debt before they ever get a high school diploma. The district received 137 million dollars last year and they are still asking for $100 million more this November. As treasurer of a local nonprofit organization and business owner, I custom-designed a financial interface to ensure the bookkeeping inflows and outflows were balanced. This kind of experience is what is needed to help FUSD regain solid footing and transparency in its fiscal obligations and be a careful steward of our hard-earned tax dollars.
2. Back to Basics in Education
It is time to return to the foundations of education: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Test scores in FUSD are abysmal. Even before the school closures of the last two years, our students’ comprehensive exam results were lagging. By concentrating education on the basics, we will not only help students, but also the teachers who are burdened with classrooms of students who cannot read or write. Additionally, our schools are in desperate need of historically accurate and principled teachings of History and Civics. In keeping with these goals, school board activities and district curriculum must adhere to Arizona state laws. And, to you the parents and guardians, transparency in curriculum is vital, so that you know what your student is learning.
3. Raising Educational Standards
Student academic success is my top priority. To increase student mastery in learning, we must refer to historical data and implement proven educational models. The curriculum should incorporate a balance of technology and successful teaching methods in order to benefit learning styles. College is a choice for many students, and a robust K-12 education will help prepare for that goal. I want to look at expanding our partnerships with local trades to benefit career-focused education if college is not a good fit. FUSD can help graduates begin earning a distinct skill-set and a living wage, which benefits them and their community.
4. Teacher Support and Retention
Our community will be well-served when the FUSD board establishes and maintains open communication with our teachers. Creating a system for teachers to report their experiences for themselves and their students is an important step in fostering a supportive environment. With greater collaboration, we can expect better retention of excellent teachers, nurturing a foundation of respect between the district, the teachers, and the families.
5. Parent Involvement
Parents must be welcomed back into the classroom. The loss of parental involvement in the classroom setting has burdened the teachers with an unsustainable workload, and has undermined the parents’ ability to better advocate for their child. Putting systems in place so students and parents can feel heard and understood promotes positive change without fear of repercussion—all part of a healthy school district. My plan is to reestablish student advisory committees and parent-teacher organizations, so that relationships and connections can be formed and encouraged.