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Alan Gates

Alan Gates

I was born in 1940 and lived in the “backwoods” of Northern California where the Cascades and Sierra Nevada meet-very much like the Bitterroot Valley.

I went to first-grade in a one-room school with all six grades in the school. I graduated at age 17 from high school with 29 kids in my graduating class. I went to college with $400 in the bank, a desire to go to college, worked my way through college and graduated in four years with a BSME in 1961. I earned the first MSME at the University of Nevada, Reno in 1963, a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (Naval Fellow) from Case-Western Reserve University in 1971 and a SMSgt (Sloan Fellow) from MIT in 1977.

I was a ROTC distinguished military graduate and served in Germany from 1963 to 1966, attaining the rank of Captain, Artillery, U.S. Army.

My careers included government, private industry, and academia. In government, I worked as a research and developement engineer, first and second line supervisors, and project manager. In private industry I worked as a long-range planning manager, vice president engineering, vice president manufacturing, vice president corporate staff and president. I also was a partner in a change leadership and management consulting company and co-author of two books on leading and managing change. In academia, I was privileged to return to the University of Nevada, Reno and serve as chair, mechanical engineering, I’ve taught engineering and management courses in both a face-face environment and online for six universities. I’ve served as a substitute for Stevensville High School.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing your school?

There are two big challenges facing the Stevensville School District, not just one big challenge. They relate to achieving the (paraphrased) mission:

Create a safe, collaborative learning environment centered on students, facilitated by staff and supported by community to ensure growth and achievement for all.

There are five interrelated supporting (paraphrased) goals to achieve the Mission:

• Goal one — student achievement--ensure that all students achieve at their highest potential socially, academically and professionally.

• Goal two — employee excellence--recruit, develop, retain and recognize high performing staff.

• Goal three — family, community and external engagement—an open and welcoming district that engages the community.

• Goal four — safety and wellness--provide a safe and healthy learning environment and lifestyle.

• Goal five — operations and capacity building—district operations, facilities and human resources that support an efficient, transparent and progressive education system.

Each goal is important, but goal one, student achievement, is the dominant goal. The other goals support goal one, but goals two, employee excellence, and goal five, operations and capacity building, co-equally impact goal one more than goals three and four. Therefore, ensuring that goals two and five are achieved represents the two biggest challenges. The challenges relate to ensuring appropriate resources—for example, staff, text books, supplies, computers, classrooms, maintenance and renovation.

Why is communication with the community important?

The community provides the essential environment for hosting public education. Community stakeholders include students, parents and relatives, friends, business people, faculty and staff, legislators, fire and police. Stakeholders provide the social and economic context for public education. Social context provides guidance and boundaries for how stakeholders relate to each other in terms of words and deeds. The economic context provides guidance and boundaries for fiscal resource levels and timing. It’s essential that the school district engage with the community to help shape the social and economic context to be favorable to achieving the mission and goals.

From a social context perspective, education research shows that students whose parents are engaged with the school system do better in school and in post-school endeavors. Activities such as participation in extracurricular activities also help improve student achievement. The school district must engage stakeholders in various social activities that enhance student achievement.

From an economic context perspective, the various stakeholders provide the fiscal resource is for the school district. Voters, including parents and non-parents, pay taxes and agree to fund bond issues. They must be persuaded to provide the fiscal resources needed to achieve the school district mission and goals.

Why are you the best candidate for school trustee?

The district is governed by a board of trustees consisting of eight members. The powers and duties of the board include the broad authority to adopt and enforce all policies necessary for the management and governance of the district.

I’ll bring new perspectives and capabilities to the board. I’m a big fan of rural school systems. I have lived and learned in rural school systems. I had growth and learning opportunities not possible in large schools. I value the life lessons I learned by growing up in a rural school system. The most influential teacher I’ve had was in a rural school system. He not only taught math, physics and chemistry quite well. But he was a role model for life. He taught me I could do what I wanted to do if I worked hard enough.

I have an unusually broad and diverse experience base. My executive, academic chair, and change leadership and management experiences will provide administrative wisdom and counsel in district management matters. My educational credentials and teaching experience will provide teaching and learning wisdom and counsel in curriculum matters.