Former educator vs. avid volunteer |

Former educator vs. avid volunteer

Matt Terrell
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” Open communication and the controversial way we pay teachers are some of the big problems on the minds of school board candidates running for election.

There will be three races for spots on the Board of Education this November, marking the first school district election since 2003.

Incumbent Jason Benderly in District G is challenged by Judd Babcock, and Keith Thompson in district C is challenged by Carrie Benway.

Mary Ann Stavney’s term is ending in district D, but she will not seek reelection. Two people will are vying for her seat ” Margaret Olle and Jeanne McQueeney.

Terms will expire for board members Connie Kincaid-Strahan for district A, and recent appointee Brian Nolan for district F. They are running unopposed and won’t appear on the ballot. Terms for Board president Scott Green and Andy Arnold in district B won’t end until 2009.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Here’s a look at the candidates in District C:

With two young children in the dual language program at Edwards Elementary, Carrie Benway wants a big hand in their education as they head toward graduation.

“I’ve been so happy with the elementary, I’d like to be sure the quality is good for middle and high school,” Benway said.

A Florida native, Benway has lived in the valley for 15 years, but has been vacationing here since she was six years old. She said she’s always loved the mountains and moved here for the ski slopes and quality of life.

She’s been volunteering at Edwards Elementary every week for five years now. You can usually find her watching over kids on the playground. She also enjoys teaching Sunday school, skiing and snowshoeing with the kids, and playing tennis with a team in Homestead.

A big issue for Benway is communication. She wants to see more dialogue between the school board and the community, and she sees the series of home meetings being scheduled by the district as a great start.

Benway sees herself as a good communicator and as someone who can see the big picture.

“I think the way to solve problems is to walk into a school and sit down and talk to people, get your solutions from there,” Benway said.

Benway also says work needs to be done on the Teacher Advancement Program. Making strides there will be a way to keep teachers and families in the district, she said.

“The basis of having performance-based pay is a very reasonable thing,” Benway said. “I think it needs to be more clear for the teachers how their evaluations are done, how their pay is broken up.”

Thompson has some key experience other board members don’t have ” years as a teacher and principal in Eagle County schools.

He moved here in 1986 and became a fifth grade teacher and assistant principal at Minturn Middle School. He was principal at the school for nine years and left in 2000 to become “Mr. Mom” in the family. Missing the world of education, he ran for school board.

Thompson says the voice of an educator is a needed one on the school board, and that’s what he can provide. He has a doctorate in education and administration, provides education consulting and recently had an article published in the American School Board Journal called “School Board Reality TV.”

“Being a former educator, I provide perspective that many other board members can’t provide,” Thompson said.

One of the biggest and most immediate challenges the school district will face is choosing a new superintendent, Thompson said.

Over the past year, the board has done a lot of good things for kids, like start a building a new school for Red Canyon High School students, but has become sidetracked with personnel issues, he said.

“We’ve had a lot of turnover in the district office, I’ll leave it at that. The board has to take some blame for what has happened,” Thompson said.

Other important issues the district will have to face is staying on top of the millions of dollars in construction going on and revamping the Teacher Advancement Program, he said.

Thompson has been married since 1989 and has two sons, one at Battle Mountain High School and one at Eagle County Charter Academy. He enjoys playing golf with his sons and snowboarding.

Staff writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or

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