Callow-Heusser brings education background to school board race
When Catherine Callow-Heusser was a child, her father, an educator, forbid his children from pursuing careers in education themselves. So she became an engineer and computer scientist.
But a desire to become an educator lingered, undeterred.
"I ended up working at Utah State University for a gentleman who needed expert systems programming done," she said, "and he shoved me into education, told me I needed to go on and get a graduate degree."
That happened in 1987, and Callow-Heusser has been in education ever since. Now, she’s aiming to fulfill another longtime ambition of serving on a board of education. She is a candidate for the open seat in District 2 of the Park City Board of Education. She is running against Andrew Caplan and Peter Yogman in District 2, which comprises areas such as Highland Estates, Park Meadows North, Ranch Place and Snyders Mill.
"I’ve always planned to run for a board of education," she said. "It was just a matter of when, and now is the right time."
Callow-Heusser split her time between Park City and Logan, where she was the director of developmental mathematics at Utah State University, for the previous four years before moving here full time in December. She said her work has often centered around helping needy students, and one of her primary goals, if elected, would be raising the performance of underserved Hispanic students.
"I pulled up the data, and Park City doesn’t do any better than the state — and we as a state do abysmally with our Spanish-speaking students," she said. "Park City, like the rest of the state, doesn’t do as well as we should, so having a hand in helping those students have more opportunities and have a greater number meet proficiency would be important to me."
Her experience working over the last decade with the Cache County School District, where Hispanic students perform above the state average, could be useful in charting a way forward for teaching underserved students, she said.
"While I haven’t been directly involved in making recommendations, I get to play with data," she said. "And given that Cache County can do what they do on, oh, about a third of the per-pupil expenditures of Park City, there are things that can be done. I’ve watched it happen."
She also wants to help Park City move beyond last fall’s bond election. Callow-Heusser said her background as an evaluator can help her succeed where the Board of Education faltered last year, as its controversial $56 bond was defeated by a wide margin at the polls.
"Clearly, the last vote for the bond was a huge hot button," she said. "I looked at both sides from what I could glean from the media — I’m not sure I have a good picture of what happened there — but that bond election is bound to come up again. I think that they either didn’t market what they learned well or they didn’t learn enough from stakeholders before they put that on the bond."
Callow-Heusser also hopes her education background proves valuable. She is currently a math education specialist at the Utah State Office of Education, but has also taught middle school and high school and created her own company that provides research and evaluation tools to schools around the country.
Serving on the Board of Education would be simply her latest venture in the education field.
"It is very important to me to have a hand in what goes on in education, and a hand in many ways," she said. "I write publications, I’ve done research, I’ve taught, I still teach some. So this is yet another avenue to have a hand in the decisions that are made in education."
Callow-Heusser, along with Yogman and Caplan, will be on the June 28 primary ballot, where one candidate will be eliminated. The two with the most votes will move on to the November general election.
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A district spokesperson said six students were removed from an area in the school as police conducted a search.