Candidate for Ketchikan School Board
My name is Conan Matthew Steele and I’m running for a three-year seat on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District Board of Education. I’m 42 years old, and I’ve been a Ketchikan resident for nearly twenty years now. Originally from Stockton, California, I came here in my early twenties on what I thought at the time was just a working vacation. Until this, I had never been more than about 200 miles from where I was born, had never flown or rode on a ship, and had no larger perspective outside of what I had developed growing up in an urban and gritty place like Stockton. Long story short, I got off the Columbia on a rainy morning (it can go months without raining where I grew up), got a load of this place, and any thoughts of ever returning to Stockton quickly evaporated. I was absolutely charmed by Ketchikan and its peculiarities.
Ketchikan and Alaska in general have been wonderful to me. I’ve had an eclectic collection of work experiences in my time here. I’ve worked as a taxi and pizza delivery driver, special education aide, liquor store clerk, seafood processor, hand-tossed pizza cook, fishery technician, sandwich maker, and high school teacher amongst others. Fortunately, this is a place where wearing many hats isn’t just accepted, it’s the norm.
The last several years I have become increasingly interested and involved in K-12 education. In 2009, I began working as a SPED aide at Ketchikan Charter School before moving on to student teaching at the same site during the 2011-12 school year. After graduating cum laude from the University of Alaska Southeast’s School of Education in spring of 2012, I signed a contract to teach in the primarily Aleut community of St Paul, Alaska. This village is located in the Bering Sea’s Pribilof Island group, about 250 miles due north of Dutch Harbor, and hundreds of miles from any other substantial land mass. Ketchikan was a dramatic departure from what I had known in California; St Paul was a far more dramatic departure from Ketchikan than that. There’s just no way to really describe the place to someone; words just don’t do it justice. It is fiercely beautiful in its remoteness, and its people were some of the kindest and most welcoming I’ve ever known. My two years out there were some of the most exciting and rewarding of my entire life. I briefly considered moving the family out there, but for the time being, it was not to be. The place still haunts my dreams.
After two years away from my wife and sons, it was time to come back home to Ketchikan for good. I currently work as the Testing Specialist at the University of Alaska Southeast’s Ketchikan Campus. I joined the KGBSD Board of Education as an appointee in March of this year.
What I bring to the Board:
Serving on the Board since March has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. If elected, it would be an honor and privilege to serve on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District Board of Education for three more years. Get out and vote on October 6th. Thank you for taking the time to learn a little bit about me.
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