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Tribal council endorses three candidates running for seats on Salmon River school board

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AKWESASNE - The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Education Division has endorsed three candidates for the Salmon River Central School Board of Educationelection on May 20.

There are seven candidates running for three available seats on the BOE. The candidates supported by the tribe are Sheila Marshall, running for re-election, Jason McDonald and Michael Conners, Jr.

Executive Director of Education Stephanie Cook said it is important to have Native representation on the school board. “Our students have unique needs, both culturally and socially. Our families have a rich cultural heritage, traditions and Mohawk values. Respecting diversity includes being culturally responsive to our children’s needs.We have chosen to work together to support the candidates from Akwesasne. The individual perspectives of each of these community leaders are important; Sheila brings experience as a board member and an educator, Michael brings a financial background and community leadership, and Jason is a community advocate and volunteer,” according to a release from the tribe.

Ms.Marshall, a professional in the education field for over 20 years and an incumbent board member, is rewarded by working on the Curriculum Sub-Committee to influence decisions made to benefit teachers and students facing the Common Core Modules. “It is imperative we make every effort to allow our students to be successful in their chosen path post-graduation. I’m committed to keep learning and achievement for all students as my primary focus,”according to Ms. Marshall, director of the Center for Diversity at SUNY Potsdam.

Mr. McDonald is driven by the desire to help students connect to the right educational resources needed to pursue their career goals. “Considering the population of our Akwesashró:non students learning at Salmon River, it is incumbent upon our community to ensure our children’s needs are voiced on the board of education,” he said.

Mr. Conners added, “Our current student enrollment is almost 70 percent Mohawk, our Native employment is 20 percent and our board member representation is 22 percent. Our Mohawk students are unacceptably under-represented.”

Mr. Conners, a graduate of Salmon River, is compelled to give back to the system by representing all students. He and his wife have three grown children who have graduated from SRCS and three younger children in grades two, four and six. Michael serves as sub-chief for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, is a board member of Mohawk Gaming Enterprises and holds the Tribal Council seat on the Akwesasne Boys and Girls Club. He is a graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh.

The Mohawk Education Committee will be hosting a “Meet the Candidates” evening on May 14 at the Salmon River Central School auditorium, where all seven candidates will be invited to discuss current concerns and issues with the community.

Absentee ballots are available at Salmon River Central School and the SRMT Community Building. For further information, please contact the Education Division at 518-358-2272.

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