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By Julian Peeples

Some people are just born to lead. This has to be why educators across the state are rising to serve their communities in the midst of multiple crises that threaten our collective health, safety and future prosperity. They’re campaigning for election like never before, finding new and creative ways to reach voters while maintaining safe social distancing and healthy practices.

We’re shining a light on some of these dedicated educators running for election during this chaotic time – leaders who are rising to defend our students and fight for the schools and community colleges they deserve. Here’s the next in this series: Michelle Gates.

Michelle Gates

Candidate for: National School District Governing Board

Experience: 14-year elementary school educator; Southwest Teachers Association representative at-large.

Why: In the district where I work, I saw the impact of a school board that didn’t listen and an administrative leader who went largely unchecked. It inspired me to run in order to be a voice for students, families and teachers.

Top issues: I believe strongly that we need to focus on providing an equitable learning environment for all students in all areas of curriculum and staffing to ensure that all voices are heard. Second, as a small district, we need to have transparent accountability in our financial matters, while working with all stakeholders for the best we can provide to students. My final concern is my greatest, as it has been a consistent problem for years: We have not done well at being truly collaborative, and that needs to change.

Distance campaigning: It’s hard, and I’m new at this. I have set up a website as well as Facebook and Instagram pages. I’m participating in National City Elementary Teachers Association-led Zoom meetings and planning to host my own meet and greets as well as mini-Q&A sessions online.

Choosing to lead now: It boils down to the combined pieces of who I am: A mom, an elementary school teacher, a union board member, and a person of faith. Wrap those together, and I am committed to stand for the students in my neighborhood, the families they represent, the teachers and staff members who work for them every day, and the community they come from.

Website/social:; Instagram: @VoteMichelleGates; Facebook page: Michelle Gates for National School District School Board