by Nathan Boddy
Hamilton School District’s Board has two open seats on this spring’s ballot, which was distributed by mail on April 15th, and is due on May 3rd. Four candidates are vying for the positions, incumbents Heidi Apedaile and Rebekah Stamp, and Cyra Saltzman and Mark Yoakam. Each candidate was given an opportunity to answer the following questions, with their responses in alphabetical order.
Why do you want to serve on the Hamilton School Board?
What experiences in your life will you lend to service as a School Board Trustee?
What challenges or opportunities face the Hamilton School District in coming years?
My name is Heidi Apedaile. I am 51 years old and work as a registered nurse at Bitterroot Health. I am seeking a second term for a school trustee position because I care about our schools, our children, and our children’s future. I also care about the employees of our district. Our district employees have worked in challenging and demanding conditions these past few years, and they have done so because of their passion for education. I have a lot of gratitude for them and want to help ensure that we offer the best opportunities for these good people to continue to work in our district. I have two children who are graduates of the Hamilton School District and two children currently at Hamilton High School.
The most obvious challenge we have as a district is employment. We currently have job openings for almost every area in the district. We have worked to ensure competitive wages, benefits, and a positive and rewarding work environment. There is a constant effort to secure resources to help each employee succeed. The district has added a wellness/fitness center and other resources to encourage employee well-being and job satisfaction. Hopefully, the staff of Hamilton School District feels the sincere appreciation and gratitude we have for them and their dedication to our children. We need to continue these efforts to ensure our district is a rewarding and joyful place of employment to retain employees and encourage new hire opportunities.
A second challenge facing our school district is the infrastructure of the middle school. This will require a lot of planning, budgeting, community input, and support to improve the quality of Hamilton Middle School.
We have exciting opportunities to offer tailored situations for each student to find success after high school. These may be skills needed for a trade or more AP courses to ensure Ivy League preparedness. Whatever pathway our students choose, we can help prepare them. I want to be a part of this effort in supporting our children by setting them up for post-high school success.
I would appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve in this capacity.
My name is Cyra Saltzman I am 37 years old, and I work for Child and Family Services as a Child Protection Specialist. I am also a mom to a 1st grader who attends Daly Elementary. Not only do I see the struggles our teachers are having due to working closely within the community. But also, as a parent, I can see the staff’s struggles and feel that impact when my child comes home and discusses their day at school. I have noticed within our schools the lack of support staff for our teachers. The schools need more in place such as the CSCT programs, Paraprofessionals,
and other support staff to help the teachers from becoming overburdened. Our families within our community also look to the teachers and the schools to support their kids and most of all to ensure the quality in our children’s education. There will always be issues and challenges, however when bringing in the support staff we need to ensure the quality of pay to make them feel valued.
52 years old; owner and Physical Therapist, Catalyst Physical Therapy
I care about kids and our community! I am passionate about ensuring that all of our children get the best possible start in life. School is a place where our kids should feel a sense of optimism, hope, encouragement and see a future that is bright. We have something special at Hamilton School District. Not only do we have exceptional kids, our teachers, administrators and staff are amazing. I have enjoyed working with everyone at the Hamilton School District (HSD) and being a trustee for the past 3 years. I truly love working as a team player giving back to the community. I hope I can continue my commitment to finding ways to provide a high-quality education to every child, provide support to our staff and promote all efforts towards making HSD the best it can be.
My husband and I made the decision to move to Hamilton in 2002 because of its welcoming community, safe environment, and we believed it was an excellent place to raise a family. Our daughter graduated in 2020 from Hamilton High School and is a sophomore at Montana State University. Our 16 year old son is a sophomore at Hamilton High School. I have witnessed firsthand the hard work and dedication from the teachers, staff, and administration. There are so many at HSD that helped mold my children into the successful and confident individuals they are today.
I have been actively involved in our community. Over the span of 20 years I have served on several non-profit boards and volunteered with several local organizations. I established Catalyst Physical Therapy in 2006 and have encountered and weathered all the complexities that come with owning and operating a business.
I am proud to have served as a HSD trustee for the past 3 years. The majority of my time on the board was spent dealing with the pandemic and all the challenges that went with it. Throughout that difficult time I learned that compromise is possible. Communication is the basis of an effective board. This current board tackled some of the most difficult issues that no one ever saw coming with professionalism, respect, integrity, and open-mindness. We were able to face problems head on and remained united. I have a desire to serve no matter what the challenge our district and community faces. My experiences of serving on several boards, being a volunteer, a parent, and business owner, lends me to being a well-rounded HSD trustee. I am optimistic for HSD and if re-elected, I look forward to re-starting our focus on academics, activities, and morale that were de-railed by the pandemic.
In my experiences, I have learned that challenges and opportunities are always changing. A key challenge our school board faces is continuously mapping a course that provides the necessary opportunities to all students and meets the needs of our staff so everyone is able to reach their full potential in our ever changing world. While the support we currently offer at HSD is impressive, the challenges of the last couple of years make it imperative that we continue to be innovative in order to meet the needs of all students, staff, teachers and administrators to ensure every possible opportunity for success.
I decided to run for the Hamilton School Board for the love I have for public education, and how it can have a profound effect on our children and our community’s future. The school board is one of the last groups that the common citizen can actually have input. I believe that a healthy school system enhances any community.
I was an educator for forty-eight years as a teacher, counselor, and coach. I served on the Hamilton School Board for seven years between 2010 and 2018. I was a hands-on board member during that time, and if I am chosen to serve, I will be that kind of board member again. Hopefully I can bring my experience and my energy to the board.
Since the beginning of time public education will always have challenges. The school board challenge is to make informed decisions with the welfare of all children as the focus point. If the board does that, it will ensure the success of our schools.