Ellen Shamah during the Kyrene School District Governing Board candidates debate on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012.

Age: 69

City: Tempe

Campaign info: eshamah@gmail.com

Why are you running for the Kyrene School board?

I was the recipient of a free and excellent public education, kindergarten through my master’s degree. I know that opened opportunities for me that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I strongly, strongly believe that every child deserves a free, quality education. There are many opportunities that can arise from that. In a society that looks at short-term results, they really have to look at education for long-term results.

Compare education today with education many years ago. Do you like what you see?

When I was in school, there were bolted-down desks and chairs, textbooks, pencil and paper and a teacher who stood in front of the room. The teachers are on their feet constantly moving around the room.

Most importantly, now, children aren’t just receptacles of knowledge. I remember a high school teacher once said, “If you raise your hand and give an answer, you’ll remember that much longer than if I tell you the answer.” I think we’ve turned education around, because if a child asks me something in the classroom, I would say “why don’t you go look that up and present it to the rest of the kids.” They own their own learning. It is OK now — and it wasn’t before — to question a teacher.

Before they were recipients, now they are active participants.


What do you believe are the most prominent issues in the near future?

We have a divide in this country with people who are willing to support education financially and people who want no new taxes. I think that we live in a world with technology, which is expensive and in a world that changes, and change is hard and expensive. We have to decide what we value. I value the education of children and the investment in them, because that is our future.


If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?



How does this word affect how you would act as a member of the governing board?

I will always be in favor of programs to help children. I think children are our future as a country. The way that I look at things is upbeat. I believe in the people doing what they know is best for everyone, and I am optimistic that in the end, we do what’s right

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