Reporter’s note: This article was updated to include candidate Hilda Sanchez’s family members employed by the Roswell Independent School District.
With over 31 years of experience in education, Hilda Sanchez is running to represent District 4 on the Roswell Independent School District school board.
“I am a candidate for the Roswell Independent School District school board member, District 4, in order to give back to both the profession of more than 30 years and the professional organization of RISD where I found my perfect fit,” Sanchez said. “I have and will continue to use my voice on the board to ask the tough questions that teachers and parents will want to know.”
Sanchez, 69, taught at Pecos Elementary School for 10 years, Monterrey Elementary School for 11 and retired in 2010 as a principal at Sunset Elementary School. She oversaw the bilingual department as the bilingual teacher mentor for RISD for about three years, and also taught English as a second language for three years at Sierra and Berrendo middle schools.
As soon as she could after retirement, Sanchez returned to RISD as a substitute teacher. She has been an education activist during her career and beyond.
“As an educator who has dedicated my entire professional life to the advancement of students of the RISD, I can no longer participate merely by substituting or volunteering when our students’ futures are at stake,” Sanchez said.
This is Sanchez’s first run for public office and instead of a campaign manager, a committee of community leaders is assisting with her campaign. Sanchez’s signs can be seen around town and she has been going door to door to meet with constituents.
When meeting her constituents, Sanchez said, after introducing herself and her plan to run, she asks what they see as the biggest issue at RISD. Her slogan is “a strong voice for our community.”
For all RISD students, she wants RISD to be “a fair and equitable system” with the “best possible opportunities.” She said having high expectations and preparing students for the future starts in pre-K.
“I realize how crucial it is not to just make sure our students are going to graduate, but to ensure they are prepared for success in college and career,” Sanchez said. “Our students deserve to graduate prepared to succeed in post-secondary learning without remediation. They deserve to graduate with fine-tuned critical thinking skills. They deserve to graduate with the emotional intelligence to navigate complex workplace and business environments. I will keep fighting to empower parents and empower all staff to define their own professional paths, and provide the tools they need in the classroom.”
Accountability of the superintendent, RISD administrators, expecting RISD to be “a fair and equitable system” for students and improving open communication are among Sanchez’s priorities if elected. Her strengths are her integrity, strong work ethic and “commitment to being accessible, approachable and willing to collaborate with all board members and stakeholders to achieve the district’s goals,” she said.
Specifically to improve communication, Sanchez intends to do the work to establish “an employee free-speech policy” to ensure teachers and administrators’ voices are in the dialogue to improve RISD. She also emphasizes the importance of having all stakeholders involved in decision making, and plans on having informal monthly meetings with constituents.
“I really want to establish an employee free-speech policy that ensures that all school staff feel encouraged and they’re free to contribute publicly to discuss about our schools,” Sanchez said. “I think that everyone that comes before the school board has a right to be heard, not just to speak, but to be heard and I think I can be a great partner as a school board member for all stakeholders, parents, students, district personnel and administrators if we want this district to move forward, to succeed.”
Including Spanish speakers in the conversation at RISD is important to Sanchez. She said having translators at the school board meetings, and other resources, are needed.
Sanchez has been married for 45 years. Her son and daughter attended RISD and now work as an engineer and in the medical field.
Sanchez has one grandson in sixth grade at a RISD school. Her sister is currently employed as an educational assistant at a RISD elementary school and her son was recently hired temporarily as a middle school basketball coach.
For volunteer work, she has been involved with Roswell High School’s basketball and volleyball booster clubs. She has been vice president of the RHS basketball booster club, a volunteer for the Hispano Chamber of Commerce and currently gives her time with Friends of the Library.
Born in El Paso, Texas, Sanchez and her family moved to the Pecos Valley when she was in the sixth grade. Her first language is Spanish and she remembers starting school with the challenge of not understanding English.
After graduating from Artesia High School, Sanchez worked part-time as an educational assistant in the bilingual department while attending college at Eastern New Mexico University. Sanchez has a bachelor’s degree in education with an emphasis in reading, earned bilingual endorsement and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification, and her master’s degree is in education and administration.
“… I know our schools, our teachers and our students and their parents …” Sanchez said. “I know I need to represent the whole district because that’s my job, but somebody has to be the voice for those schools, and those teachers and those students.”
School board elections are nonpartisan. Sanchez is affiliated with the Democratic Party.
District 4 is predominantly south and east from South Virginia Avenue, extending east beyond the Pecos River, and covers an area south past YO Road. Incumbent Ruben Sanchez and challenger Sergio Gonzalez are also running for this seat.
Election Day is Nov. 5. Early voting began on Oct. 8 at the Chaves County Clerk’s Office. Absentee ballots can now be mailed, and mail-in and online voter registration is closed. Oct. 31 is the last day to request an absentee ballot and Nov. 1 is the last day a ballot can be mailed.
From Oct. 8-Nov. 1, voter updates and registration can be completed in person with the County Clerk. On Nov. 2, voters can update and register from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The terms for the remaining board members — serving Districts 1, 3 and 5 — will expire in 2021. Those members are Mona Kirk, Board President Alan Gedde and James Edwards. All five districts can be viewed online at risd.k12.nm.us/schoolboard/Roswell_Schools_Board_Districts_2012_Map_letter.pdf.
Special projects reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.