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      photos of school candidates, 2 men and 1 woman

      Know Your SPUSD Board Candidates

      ColoradoBoulevard.net presented three fundamental questions to the four candidates for the South Pasadena Unified School District (SPUSD) Board of Education.

      By Editorial Board

      We received responses from three candidates; Suzie Abajian (Incumbent) did not respond. (Candidates are in alphabetical order).

      Question #1:

      How do you envision the future of the SPUSD?

      decorativeErik Gammell:

      I want to ensure that we are teaching the whole child, ensuring that every student is set up to succeed in whatever path they choose. I want all students in the district to be able to think for themselves, problem solve and be good citizens. To do so, we need to continue and expand our social and emotional wellness and racial equity and inclusion curriculum. We need a robust Arts, Electives and Athletics program.

      decorativePatricia Martinez-Miller:

      My vision of the SPUSD going forward is a bright one.  Our District always has achieved at the top of California school districts even though we receive fewer $$ per student than our surrounding districts.  The creativity and innovation that this requires will serve us well in the future. When elected, I commit to working with all stakeholders to make sure that the next four years in SPUSD will be the District’s best.

      decorativeAlan Reynolds:

      The future of our South Pas Schools needs to be dynamic and inclusive. One that listens. To everyone. Families. Parents. Students. And Teachers. These schools were great when I went there, and we need to grow to keep them great for our kids’ futures.


      Question #2:

      How would new initiatives, if any, be funded in the SPUSD budget?

      Erik Gammell:

      Without a change in how public education is funded in California and in the United States, SPUSD, like many others public schools, will be facing some difficult decisions over the next few years. We need to be creative in looking for new sources of funding, and we need to be active voices to ensure that public school funding is a priority. We are fortunate to live in a community that values our public schools and helps bridge the gap.

      Patricia Martinez-Miller:

      My belief is that building on successful current initiatives is our best choice. SPUSD already has initiatives in place to support the highest learning and achievement of ALL students, to increase the social-emotional well-being of students, and to expand curricular offerings to meet emerging expectations. We will do this by exploring and improving existing initiatives and building on our record of success by calling on the imaginations of teachers, administrators, students and families.

      Alan Reynolds:

      The budget is uncertain at this time, so it is hard to say. But dealing with the pandemic has driven the need for mental health and recovery to the forefront–both for our students and our teachers.

      Question #3:

      Do you have children enrolled at SPUSD?

      Erik Gammell:

      I have two young children in the District; they are both enrolled at Arroyo Vista Elementary and are in the 1st and 4thgrades. I have been an active volunteer in the District since my eldest was in pre-Kindergarten. Through this involvement, I have seen the dedication of our Teachers and Staff to providing a high quality and enjoyable education to our students. I believe we need someone equally dedicated on the SPUSD Board of Education.

      Patricia Martinez-Miller:

      My two children attended SPUSD during my previous successful three terms on the SPUSD Board. Currently, my grandchildren are enrolled in the SPUSD. I am supervising the distance learning of my three grandchildren because my son and his wife are now working full-time from home. I appreciate this very special opportunity to participate in SPUSD’s distance learning efforts in a hands-on way, as it allows me real understanding of what students and families are experiencing.

      Alan Reynolds:

      I have two children enrolled in elementary schools in the District. Previously, one of my children was at Arroyo Vista for special needs. Now both are at Monterey Hills, of which I am an alumnus myself as well (also SPMS and SPHS ’02).


      Click on the candidate’s name below to expand:

      [spoiler title=’Erik Gammell’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]Erik Gammell graduated with a double major in International Relations and Economics from Connecticut College. After graduating, Erik moved to Los Angeles, and founded an educational software company focused on visual learning for complex subjects. He then went on to earn his MBA from Pepperdine University before beginning a career in Business Development. Erik then shifted his career to the non-profit sector; beginning as the Director of the non-profit REACH a Child, which is committed to providing books and support to children in crisis. Erik is currently a non-profit consultant focusing on helping non-profits plan strategically, create accountability, and focus on governance and oversight. Erik has always been active in the community, serving on numerous boards. Erik has served as Board Member of non-profit dedicated to providing support to at-risk families and children; he also served as Board Member of Domestic Abuse Intervention Services in Madison, WI. Erik currently serves on the Arroyo Vista PTA Executive Board, AYSO Region 214 Board of Directors and the Connecticut College Alumni Association Board of Directors.[/spoiler]

      [spoiler title=’Pat Martinez-Miller’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]Pat Martinez-Miller has been a resident of South Pasadena since 1979, and together with her husband, happily raised a son and a daughter who benefited from SPUSD’s great schools. She is especially pleased and proud that her three grandchildren are now thriving students of the SPUSD. Pat’s  whole professional life, whether as a classroom teacher, school principal, college professor or school and district coach, has been devoted to helping students learn, creating schools where all students succeed, teaching potential teachers to be successful in the classroom and coaching school and school district administrators to success for kids. She served three effective terms on the SPUSD Board and is especially gratified that during these years the SPUSD increased options for students, narrowed the achievement gap by raising student achievement results for all students in an already high achieving district and implemented a shared decision-making model that ensured a meaningful voice for and clear communication among stakeholders—parents, students, teachers, and administrators. As a professional educator, she put the Ph.D. in Spanish Language and Literature earned at USC to good use serving Los Angeles schools as a teacher and principal recognized for improving student learning, teacher development and community collaboration.  After 25 years in L.A. she was tapped by UCLA for a 20 year stint leading the faculty of the Graduate School of Education’s School Management Program.[/spoiler]

      [spoiler title=’Alan Reynolds (From his website)’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]Just A Parent… who wants the best for our kids. I don’t have a background in childhood education.  All I can do is listen. To parents, teachers/staff and (at times) students. What I do is take various voices/inputs and find solutions. As an Engineer I have a problem-solving mentality; as a manager I work with people, find consensus using soft skills, emotional intelligence, and interactive leadership. I’ve served our community on the Parks & Recreation and Freeway & Transportation Commissions. Nothing is more important than serving to help our children’s opportunities grow through education enabling them for a grander future. Our next generation is counting on us, now, to listen and be a voice so that they can all succeed. I grew up in South Pas: MHS, SPMS & SPHS (’02); I’ve been a parent at multiple elementary schools (Special Needs: Preschool-1st) and (K-4 & 2-3). We must continue striving to improve, supporting all children in our community; be a resource for next generational development. I’m raising/spending no money, putting no trash in your mailboxes or on your doorsteps and no campaign signs on your lawns. Donate instead to our PTAs and SPEF. The money will be better spent on our kids.[/spoiler]

      [This article has been updated to include a biography for each candidate. Oct. 6, 2020, 6:27 pm.]


      About Our Election Coverage:

      Candidate Questions
      ColoradoBoulevard.net offered every single candidate in nearby cities a free opportunity to answer questions we provided.
      Separately, candidates are offered the opportunity to advertise in our print and online editions, in which some do and some opt not to.
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