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Yolanda Montoya-Cordova

District 1 Candidate

Candidate Questions and Answers

Why do you want to be a board member for Albuquerque Public Schools?

I am a great candidate that embodies the experiences fo the South Valley Community and holds the skills necessary to share those experiences.  I'm a 4th generation resident of the area and have a lived experience that continues to be relevant and linked to the current experience of my community.

My professional background as a public administrator and social worker prepare me with much needed skills, knowledge and abilities necessary to review and approved educational policy, understand APS' complex budgeting processes, identify and resolve programmatic challenges and issues, and be responsive to parent, student, and community concerns and requests.

APS is a complex organization that requires partnership and collaboration across several entities.  My professional experience with state organizations such as CYFD, Department of Health, Workforce Development, Human Services; and ongoing coordination and direct work with agencies that support families, youth and community such as Mission Graduate, NMCAN, Youth Development Inc., Pegasus Legal Services for Children and various community health entities including First Choice, Presbyterian Health Services and First Nations, all provide important context and relevant information necessary to facilitate partnership, grow interest in understanding and response to APS and its mission.

I'm running because I also believe in the power of public education.  Public education is the single most important institution necessary to empower a community, a family and a child.

What is your interest in education?

My interest in education stems from a commitment to lifelong learning.  I see the value of education as an important tool to realize dreams and personal goals that empower an individual to realize their aspirations and build capacity that leads to meaningful contributions to self and the community.  My interest in education is based on a desire to build and sustain a meaningful public education system that is responsive to all youth; especially youth with unique needs and challenges as a result of trauma and disability.

In what ways will you support the mission and vision of the district?

I will work in partnership with the administration and board members and commit to professionalism, integrity and honesty.  I commit to being prepared in advance of meetings, being thoughtful and mindful of my approach with staff, parents and students to assure my first response is to listen.  I further commit to supporting board and administration decisions, agree to work toward understanding and awareness; especially when there is dissent.  The role of the board is to set the tone for the district by demonstrating capacity to work in partnership and positive relationship with the superintendent and each other; which in turn creates stability and confidence in the community.

How will you work with the superintendent?

The Superintendent is directed with establishing the direction for the District.  As a Board member, my role will be to be engaged in the goals and objectives outlined by the Superintendent, listen and identify what is needed to move those goals forward and work in partnership to create and implement budget and policy to support those activities.  Additionally, as a board member, it is important to listen for challenges and shortcoming, assist with adjusting the direction by redirecting resources or changing policy and/or budget to meed demands.  With fellow board members, commit to providing honest feedback and evaluation to hold the superintendent accountable for performance and/or progress.

What is your past and current involvement with Albuquerque Public Schools?

I was appointed to the board to fill a vacancy in October 2017 and my active participation has added value in these meetings.  In my role as the Deputy Secretary for the Department of Workforce Solutions I directed funding for youth workforce readiness activities at West Mesa, Rio Grande and Highland HS; promoted a summer job program in partnership with the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County and hosted a summer internship program in partnership with the Jobs for Americas Graduate program.  Previous involvement included management and oversight of the School Based Health Center program and youth suicide prevention programs funded through the Department of Health.

What should be the relationship between the superintendent and Board of Education?

The Board governs and the Superintendent administers and together they form the leadership team for the District.  The relationship between the board and superintendent must be interactive and overlapping in some instances, such as goals and objectives.  The District works best when the Board and the Superintendent coordinate their efforts, strive for understanding and have distinctive roles and responsibilities.

What qualities and skills would you bring to the Board of Education?

Authenticity - I am proud of who/where I come from.  I live my truth and use my truth to power me forward into relationship/partnership with others.

Hardworking - I thrive in challenging situations and complex issues.  I work hard to find meaning and learning from challenges.  I commit to preparation necessary to be on the board - do the homework, research, evaluate and analyze information and depth.

Willingness to be Flexible - Although I come prepared with ideas and thoughts about how to solve an issue or address a concern - I am willing to compromise and change my mind after listening to good ideas, supporting data/documentation and additional information.

What school or community volunteer activities have you participated in related to the community?

I've participated in career readiness/career exploration activities with the Jobs for Americas Graduates, consultation with the School Based Health Alliance on school health/school mental health programming, served as a volunteer board member with Pegasus Legal Services for Children to advise on kinship/foster care concerns for families living in the south valley and I'm also an active member of my neighborhood association.

How do you plan to work with constituents?

I plan to attend parent meetings, neighborhood association meetings and community projects in the community.  I also plan to make myself available to parents and students when issues arise to assist with connecting to APS staff/programs.  I enjoy attending special school events, including homework diners, community school planning committees, bilingual seal presentations and athletic events where children and their families are celebrated and engaged to learn and listen about what is working and to understand challenges.

What do you see as opportunities and challenges to the district?

The opportunities for District 1 are found in the diversity of the students and families.  District 1 is the perfect setting for promoting bilingual programs and ethnic studies.  The community also includes beautiful open spaces that lend to STEM education in agricultural sciences and outdoor sciences.  The challenges include issues associated with families living in poverty and a high concentration of English language learners in the community.  These challenges require an intensity of family/community supports, access to health/mental health services and professional development to assure staff have adequate resources and capacity to meet the needs of children/families who are English language learners and experience adverse childhood events.

What do you think is the best way for the district to accomplish the Superintendent’s Big Five?

Addressing the Big Five requires a commitment to fully understanding the complexity of each of the components, best and promising practices being implemented nationally, as well as current research and studies supporting programming for distinct populations and ethnic groups.  Each area requires a commitment to using unique resources and tools for each school informed by community and cultural needs.  Finding and supporting current and relevant instructional materials; as well as consistent and relevant professional development activities for staff to create and maintain capacity to deliver each component consistently and effectively.  A commitment to development and engagement of community partnerships, inclusive of parents, students, social organizations and businesses to support creative implementation is also required.  Finally, ongoing commitment to continuous quality improvement and evaluation and performance monitoring to track outcomes for impact and change to assure programs and activities are meeting objectives.

  1. Early learning 
  2. College and Career Readiness 
  3. Attendance
  4. Developing the Whole Child 
  5. Community and Parent Engagement 

If elected, how will you work with the current board?

If elected, I will commit to working in partnership with the membership to support open communication, active and meaningful participation in meetings, and willingness to be fully engaged in reading/preparing ahead of board meetings.  I'll seek understanding, work collaboratively to resolve issues and request guidance and clarity to assure understanding.  If elected I promise to serve with my values described as my best qualities, including authenticity, commitment to work hard and flexibility.