As many of you know, I grew up in Louisiana and I have chosen to live here. Growing up in the south, well, I did not quite fit in. I loved being outside and couldn’t get excited about the same things as my peers—they were into tailgating at football games and partying at Mardi Gras.
When I first visited Teton Valley, I fell in love with the mountains, and I knew that I would be back. Then I had the chance to live here for one winter and I started to see how Teton Valley worked.
I saw a community that helps to support each other. A seed was planted in my brain about how special the Tetons are for all the things I like to do. I spent the next few years traveling and working across the country—but my heart kept coming back to Teton Valley. I was drawn to the people—they take care of each other. I was drawn to this community, one whose values are aligned with mine. I was drawn to the landscape that inspired me, and I was drawn to the pace of life.
I chose Teton Valley as my home, and I recognize how lucky I am to have found a piece of heaven.
Four years ago, almost to the day, I was elected to the school board. My goals in running for school board were to help the district grow, help develop a strategic plan, help pass a bond to replace outdated schools, and help the district focus on academic achievement. These were not new ideas; Teton School District 401 had been working on these things way before I arrived on the scene. I thank those who came before me; they laid a good path.
I will be honest: the issue of the mascot has been weighing heavily on me. It has kept me up many nights. What is concerning is the level of negativity, the name-calling, online bullying, etc. In my heart, I know that these actions are not consistent with the values of Teton Valley.
What example are we setting our students and children? How do we want our students and children to act when they disagree with someone?
No matter what happens around the mascot, some folks will be upset. I write today to encourage civil discourse and respectful dialog.
Let’s seek to understand each other. At the end of this, we are still neighbors.
I hope that, as a community, we gain a better understanding of each other rather than creating rifts. If nothing else, please recognize that our students and our children are watching our behavior.