By Lyndsie Ferrell
CREEDE— Over the past month the Creede School Board has undergone some major changes after several of the long-term members, including former President John Howard resigned. The board was left with only three remaining members but has continued business as usual, while continuing to look for additional members.
It was recently announced that the board has elected current member Damon Gibbons as the board’s new president and has introduced the remaining three members to the Creede community.
At the beginning of May, the board held several meetings in an attempt to fill vacant seats on the board and during one of those meetings, former President Howard turned in his resignation stating that he felt it was the best course of action for the school. Howard explained that he personally felt that the board was headed in another direction than what he had hoped for and that it would be better for the school if he resigned from his position.
Gibbons has served on the board for several years now and has been intimately involved with the school. According to his biography, “Damon was born and raised in Worland, Wyo., although he spent the latter part of middle school and high school in Spokane, Wash. Damon graduated from University of Wyoming with a degree in agricultural economics and Colorado State University with a master’s in integrated resource management. He is foreman and head wrangler at the 4UR Ranch and has worked there since 2000. Mr. Gibbons has served on the Creede Early Learning Center Board of Directors as Treasurer, and also currently serves on the American Mining Foundation Board. Damon has a passion for a Holistic approach to education, whether he is working with clients and their horses or working with the administration and faculty to give students the best memorable, life enriching experience while at Creede School.”
In addition to Gibbons, the board welcomes David Robinson, who according to his bio, has years of experience working in public schools. His biography states, “David grew up in a small rural community in Minnesota. He graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in mechanical engineering and was commissioned in the US Air Force. After leading USAF SAR teams over most of Utah including the Uinta Mountains over to Wendover, Nev., he was selected for special assignment and went on to receive a PhD in Engineering at the University of Arizona. David retired from the Air Force Institute of Technology as associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics. He worked as a research scientist at Sandia National Labs (Albuquerque, NM), retiring in 2016 to move to Creede as a fulltime resident. David has since opened a blacksmith shop, Iron Rain Forge, with focus on artistic forgery. He continues consulting work with cyber warfare, Mars 2020 and other projects. Besides his love of engineering and science, David is a member of the Positive Coaching Alliance, has coached youth soccer, started a co-ed youth rugby league and coached a high school rugby team to three state championships and regional championship while in NM. He was active in organizing science demos in public schools and creating parent/teacher science nights throughout Albuquerque. He is currently active in the Headwaters Alliance, serves on the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee/Education subcommittee and is a certified water operator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. He is a member of Creede Arts Council and also serves on Creede School’s Career & Technical Education Advisory group.”
Kassidy Mankowski is a long-time resident of Creede and comes to the board with the following experience: “all of her primary and secondary education took place at Creede School. Ms. Mankowski offers her experience as a strong rooted community member, former student, current parent and business professional with a strong background in finance. Kassidy knows an excellent school has a positive impact on the community it serves, reaching far beyond the walls of the building itself. She has worked in the local banking industry for over 10 years, currently as branch manager and lending officer with Del Norte Bank. She has coached peewee basketball and volleyball and has volunteered in many school, community and church programs. She is the mother of three children from teenager down to toddler. Despite her busy family schedule, she continues to work hard to support the community and faculty in all assets of education, outreach and service.”
Lastly, Kara Brittain was elected to the board; her background is as follows, “Kara grew up in Monte Vista and on family property above the Rio Grande Reservoir, where her grandparents owned a guest ranch. Kara was a Boettcher Scholar (competitive full-ride scholarship offered to resident students of Colorado) and graduated from Denver University Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Kara’s passion for education started early in her childhood. Her mother was a teacher for 27 years and will soon begin her fifth year as principal at Sargent High School. Kara was raised amidst frequent conversations and debates concerning every aspect of public education. She has seen first-hand the value of supporting the administration and faculty in order to achieve the best valuable outcome for each student, along with tackling the challenges of state requirements, funding shortages, staffing and staff education, as well as community partnership. Kara and her husband are both business owners in Creede and have two children who currently attend Creede School and the Creede Early Learning Center. Kara has served on the board of the Creede Chamber of Commerce, Silver Thread Scenic and Historic Byway and currently the Creede Early Learning Center (since 2011) as treasurer. She served on the SAFE committee which helped to pass legislation to build the new school, and also on the Creede School Design Committee.”