DRAFT - 2018 Board of Directors Election - Candidate Biographies

The candidates profiled on this page are running for 2 open parent seats on the Stargate Board of Directors. Each of these seats will be for a three-year term. 

All information was provided by the candidates running for election.

Among its key responsibilities, the Stargate School Board of Directors is responsible for the Stargate budget, review of the annual audit, evaluation of the school's Executive Director and compensation, policy approval and corporate level sponsorships. The Governance Board focus is longer term and “big picture”. For more information about the work this group does, visit the Board of Directors page.

Stargate community members will receive voting instructions the week of May 1 - either electronically (Infinite campus email address on file), in their Monday folders (grades K-5) or via the U.S. mail (grades 6-11). Eligible voters may cast ballots between May 1 (midnight) and May 8 (4pm MT). If you have any questions about the election process or about the voting instructions provided to eligible voters, contact electioncommittee@stargateschool.org

 Candidate Biography
Paul Darrah
 
Paul Darrah

I am an experienced manager in the automotive engineering field and a certified project manager. I grew up in Southern California and graduated from California State University at Fullerton with a bachelors in business operations. I met my wife, Dita, an urban planning professional, a little late in life and we lived in Orange County for several years before we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to move to Colorado in 2007 while our son was just 9 months old. (We consider him a native Coloradan!) After leading large technical projects and developing testing programs for Roush I took over operations for the company's high altitude testing facility and ran that business unit for several years. I then took a position as Director of vehicle testing and development at an EPA certified emissions laboratory here in the Denver area before leaving to attend to the business Dita and I own and operate creating and selling astronomy related maps and educational products. We feel fortunate to have found Stargate, a school right in our own neighborhood that could help meet the special needs of our gifted student. We are now in our sixth year as Stargate parents.
Joe Halter
Joe Halter

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education-Social Studies and a Master’s in Higher Education Leadership also from Indiana University. In between my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I completed my student teaching in an eighth grade classroom then worked for a year and a half as a substitute teacher including some multi-month, long term placements at a middle and high school giving me a thorough understanding of K-12 education. In 2015, I received my doctorate from the University of Colorado Denver in Educational Leadership for Educational Equity. Currently, in my 18th year working in P-20 education, I serve as the Senior Director for Student Life and Campus Community at the University of Colorado Denver. In this role, I provide oversight, supervision, budget management, professional development, and strategic prioritization for a team of twelve professional staff members and over 150 student employees. With my degrees and professional experience, I understand the importance of K-12 education and have a passion for education and believe in the power of developing students so that they maximize their potential.
Jan Kulmann
Jan Kulmann

As the current President of the Stargate Board of Directors, I almost decided not to run again. The Stargate world is challenging: balancing every gifted student’s unique needs while also ensuring funding is available for programs and staff. The role of a Board member is hard: late meetings, sleepless nights, and truly thinking outside the box to solve problems that a District has a significant amount of staff and funding for that we just don’t have. I’ve had to learn to be an expert in Charter Boards, to rely on parent volunteers for financial support, and more recently, how to find professional support in Special Education that used to be provided by our District. I didn’t think that I’d grow to love a role that is so frustrating. At the end of each hard discussion or difficult meeting, I continue to see how the kids are growing and developing and I know that without Stargate, I would be failing my own kids and the hundreds of others that have joined this crazy family. I am thankful that I have Stargate in my life for my kids and that I have been able to give back over the years to continue to improve it for all students. I humbly ask to continue to make a difference for this incredible blessing that is our Stargate Community.
 Traci Nicks
Traci Nicks
 
My name is Traci Nicks.  My daughters have been attending Stargate for the past 2 years and are in 6th and 9th grades.  They have both been identified as gifted since kindergarten.  Prior to attending Stargate, they attended our neighborhood school when we lived in St. Vrain Schools and another charter school for gifted students once we moved to Adams 12.  I am familiar with the hard work it takes on parents’ parts to find a school that is a good fit for their gifted student. Professionally, I hold both my Professional Teaching License in Special Education and my Special Education Director’s License from CDE.  I taught special education for 15 years and I’m currently finishing my 5th year as a Special Education Administrator.  I have a thorough understanding of special education law and a good understanding of overall education law in Colorado.  This is the biggest asset I could bring to the Board.  I am by no means a lawyer and I sometimes have to defer to legal counsel in highly involved cases, but interpreting education law in a school setting is what I do every day.  Additionally, I am well versed at finding answers I don’t know off the top of my head and I know which resources are credible for finding this information.
Amanda Szymanski
Amanda Szymanski 

My name is Amanda Szymanski, my son is a 4th grader and my daughter is in kindergarten. I was a YMCA Camp Director responsible for hiring/training staff, planning activities/field trips and maintaining the safety of 500+ kids. I helped start a healthcare company before going back to school and obtaining my doctorate. While there, I completed doctoral education classes which facilitated my understanding of our education system. I have been successfully running my own business for 5 years. In addition, I'm actively involved in our school community by volunteering in the classroom and on the Fundraising Committee, I was elected to the School Accountability and Bond Allocation Committees, and I’m the Chair of the Fundraising Allocation Committee. Simultaneously, I’m the Director of Volunteers for the Adams 12 GT Super Saturday Program and the parent liaison to the Adams 12 GT Program. I'm interested in serving on the Board because I'm passionate about ensuring our mission/vision are maintained throughout the full expansion of our school.
Teresa Walsh
Teresa Thomson Walsh

I am running for the Board because I am passionate about Stargate and committed to our school’s success. I am an attorney, who graduated in 1995 from Georgetown University Law Center. As a litigator I practiced in several different areas. My most relevant areas of experience include special education and employment law. Specifically, I worked with the Department of Defense Schools where I provided staff training on special education and represented the schools in special education cases. While at the Department of Defense I also served as a mediator after receiving training from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. I have previous experience on a charter school board. I was elected and served as a member and secretary. While on the board, we were working on completing the school’s campus, expanding student enrollment, restructuring the Executive Director’s responsibilities, and renewing the school’s charter with Adams 12 Five Star School District. Finally I have additional leadership training through the Colorado Institute of Leadership Training and was selected to participate in the inaugural Parent Academy for the Colorado Children’s Campaign.

Elizabeth Williams
 Elizabeth Williams
 
I have two children at Stargate, in 9th and 6th grade. Since 2008 I have volunteered immeasurable hours for the school, most recently as a Board Director since being appointed in August of 2018. In 2008 I started serving on the Fundraising Committee for 6 years, with 3 of those spent as the Chairperson. After leaving the Fundraising Committee, I led the Grant Committee for a few years, which was struggling to find volunteers at the time. I worked on the Stargate Foundation for 3 years and helped build the new campus. I will bring my personal, volunteer, and professional experience to the Stargate Board of Directors to continue to address concerns we have faced over the last year and find a path forward to see our evolution into the next chapter of the school. In addition to volunteering at the school for the past 10 years, and raising two children, I work full time in the mortgage business. In my professional experience, I see people faced with financial difficulties everyday and therefore have a passion for financial stability. I have brought this dedication to my volunteer jobs at Stargate.


Election - Quick Links

Q&A Responses
Candidates' views on school issues and why they're running for a seat on the board, Visit the Q&A page

Skills Profiles
Candidates' areas of expertise and professional skills page

Cast Your Vote
1. Go to the Simply Voting site between May 1-8
2. Enter the information provided in the election letter you received electronically (Infinite Campus email on file), in your Monday folder or via the USPS
3. Follow the on-screen instructions to make your selections and cast your vote

Elections at Stargate
Overview page, click
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