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Education Deciders
Methow Valley School Board

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School board chair Mary Anne Quigley, 72, was living in Hawaii when her daughters came home from a visit to the Methow Valley bearing brochures from the Methow Conservancy, Methow Recycles and the Merc Playhouse. “It looks to me like these people are living our values,” she remembers telling them.

Intrigued, she checked out some valley on-line real estate listings and stumbled on a house she liked. “I put a low bid on it, but I wasn’t really serious,” she confesses. However, she smiles, “The lady took it.” So Quigley bought the house, sight unseen, and eight months later moved to Carlton with her family.

Raised as an itinerant army brat, Quigley brings 52 years and a wide range of education experience to the school board, including 44 years as a classroom teacher in California, Arizona, Colorado and Hawaii, with 15 years in New Zealand. Among her education degrees is a doctorate in leadership and professional development from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Her assignments have included teacher development as far afield as islands of the South Pacific and the Northern Marianas, and she’s a field supervisor for student teachers assigned to the district. She has eight children, two of them adopted, 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

In 2005, a time of turmoil when the district was going through a bad patch and getting into the newspaper for all the wrong reasons, she decided to run for the school board. The late Jim Goodsell of Twisp took her campaign in hand, and Quigley defeated two other candidates. She’s in her third term on the board.

 “A child’s failure is a teacher failure,” says Quigley, who becomes emotional when she talks about the lengths to which she’s seen the district’s teachers go to prevent a child from failing. “The biggest thing that’s happened is the incredible increase in professionalism that (Superintendent) Mark (Wenzel) has been instrumental in bringing about,” she says. In 2010 U.S. News and World Report magazine awarded a bronze medal to Liberty Bell in its annual listing of the nation’s best schools.

In an effort to improve student math skills, the district has linked up with the University of Washington’s School of Education to bring a math specialist to the district once a month. And it has hired Anne Andersen, a teacher and former principal of a Minnesota arts and science magnet school and former principal of the Trondheim, Norway, International School and education instructor at the University of Minnesota, to serve as an instructional coach for the district’s teachers. Andersen’s impact has been “huge,” according to Quigley.

Quigley shares the other board members’ enthusiasm for their collegial working relationship. She says the respect they show one another when they disagree over education policy is part and parcel of the district’s character development goal for students. Says Quigley: “We expect to model the behavior we want to see in the kids.”

Gary Marchbank Frank Kline Don Calvert Dana Stromberger