Eight write-in candidates have joined the two who will be on the ballot in Helena’s school board election May 7.
The 10 candidates are competing for the three seats up for election this year. All school board positions have three-year terms.
The candidates on the ballot are John H. McEwen and incumbent Libby Goldes. The write-in candidates are Douglas (Doug) Hansen, Michael Spreadbury, Angela Ewing-Hyyppa, Ralph A Moody, Ella Currier, Justin Stolp, Siobhan K. Hathhorn and Phoebe Williams.
To cast a ballot for a write-in candidate, a voter must fill in the oval next to the write-in line and spell out the person’s name or one of the variations of the person's name provided on the registration form.
Ballots will be mailed to voters April 22.
Doug Hansen said he has been a contracted educator in five public schools in three states. He said he has been a guest teacher in two Montana school districts, including eight years with Helena Public Schools.
“I am aware of the many concerns which HPS teachers have, and I would like to make a positive impact for those teachers,” Hansen said.
Michael Spreadbury has been a licensed secondary educator in Montana since 1998 and has worked as a guest teacher for Helena Public Schools for the last five years. He also operates the VIP car service Helena Town Car and said he "cannot think of a better cause than our youth and future of Helena."
"When I am in a classroom, I try to encourage students on their goals, and help implementing their dreams," he said. "My aim while on the Helena School Board is to represent teachers and students to ensure the best leadership and allocation of resources to benefit the Helena community as a whole."
Last year, Hansen and Spreadbury filed claims with the Montana Department of Labor for a half-day's wages for time spent acquiring an identification badge and filing employment paperwork to work as substitute teachers for Helena Public Schools. The claims were dismissed after a hearing in December. Hansen and Spreadbury are no longer working in the Helena schools.
Angela Ewing-Hyyppa grew up in the Helena area and graduated from Helena High School before spending the next 20 years traveling with her husband at the time, who was in the U.S. Air Force. In 2007 Ewing-Hyyppa moved back to the Helena Valley, where she operates a small farm. Ewing-Hyyppa said she served as PTA president when her children were in school and has also been their home-school teacher.
“I like to be part of change, and I feel that if teachers, parents and students work together that change can be made,” Ewing-Hyyppa said.
A Butte native, Ralph A Moody said he is a registered nurse and has children in Helena Public Schools. He has always been impressed by the quality of education provided, he said.
“I believe part of my career working with adolescents and the tremendous pressures they encounter daily would be an asset in assisting the school board,” Moody said. “I am a team player and committed to finding common ground for solutions. At this stage of my life I have the time and sincere interest in helping my community.”
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Helena High School graduate Ella Currier said she comes from three generations of public school teachers. Currently, her parents are teachers and her siblings are students in Helena. Currier said she was involved in the campaign to pass the Helena’s school facilities bond in 2017, which inspired her to give back to her community.
“I'm running for school board because I think our educators and students are our most valuable resource, and I want to be a part of positive change in Helena,” Currier said. “I think I would bring a fresh perspective to the board, because I am a young, involved member of the community who graduated from the Helena School District. I am excited to work with the educators and students of HSD1, and can't wait to face this new challenge head on.”
Justin Stolp is a Montana native who was raised in Butte. He and his wife moved to Helena about 15 years ago, and he has worked as an IT project manager for the Montana State Department of Justice for five years.
“I am running for the school board because I am very interested in making sure that education is accessible and comprehensive,” Stolp said. “Each person approaches learning differently and it is important that the school system keep this in mind when planning for the future.”
Siobhan K. Hathhorn has been an educator for the last 18 years and has worked as both a classroom teacher and an elementary principal. She was born and raised in Alaska and has two grown daughters who attended and graduated from Helena's public schools.
"I am running for the board of trustees because I am deeply committed to promoting quality public education in the Helena area," Hathhorn said. " ... I care deeply about educating each and every child to their highest potential, and this will continue to be my driving force as a future board member. Furthermore, I am committed to making fiscally prudent decisions based on improving an already strong educational system."
Phoebe Williams has lived in Helena all her life, aside from her time in college. She has more than 20 years of experience working in state agencies and private businesses in the Helena area and has spent the last eight months as the executive office administrator for the Montana Office of Public Instruction. She graduated from a private high school but has four children attending Helena Public Schools.
"I am really interested in what's going on with the district and being able to make a difference," she said.
Libby Goldes has been on the school board for 12 years and is seeking re-election to her fifth term.
"We all want the best for our students. Not only are they our children, grandchildren and neighbors, they are also our future," Goldes said. "Making sure they are offered appropriate and engaging educational opportunities in a supportive environment with the best teachers possible is a prime goal."
John H. McEwen retired as an administrator in the state personnel division of the Department of Administration in 2003 and has since worked a variety of jobs, including as a substitute teacher and as the community build project manager for ExplorationWorks.
"I've always been interested in school issues," McEwen said. "I think I can help out. I have the background to do the things that school boards do."
Independent Record reporter Tyler Manning contributed to this story.