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4:33 PM Wed, Dec. 12th

PUSD says farewell to 2 board members hailed for dedication, vision

Maureen Erickson stands with  Greg Mengarelli after receiving a farewell certificate from the Prescott Unified School District. Erickson served for eight years, two as board president. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

Maureen Erickson stands with Greg Mengarelli after receiving a farewell certificate from the Prescott Unified School District. Erickson served for eight years, two as board president. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli was recruited to his first-time post as the city’s top elected chief while he was the president of the Prescott Unified School District Governing Board.

District Superintendent Joe Howard said he was a witness to history – encouraging Mengarelli to seek the post.

On Tuesday night, Mengarelli was offered a final farewell as he opted to finish out his four-year term, one of them as president, rather than seek re-election to a second term. He joined Maureen Erickson, a two-term board member and two-time president, in retiring from the board.

On Dec. 18, the Governing Board will welcome two new members elected in November: Deb Dillon and Connie Donovan.

Howard recalled his first meeting with Mengarelli was when he was principal at Mile High Middle School.

Mengarelli, the father of nine children, stopped in his office to assure if ever there were a problem with any one of his children to give him a call, one Howard said he is proud to say he never had to make.

Beyond his personal interest, though, Howard said Mengarelli always showed a passion for the education of all of the community’s children, one that prevails to this day. In his educational advocacy, Howard said Mengarelli worked on two bonds, one that failed and one that succeeded. His career has revolved around instilling children with values rooted in outdoor adventure and leadership. Mengarelli is the chief executive officer of the United Christian Youth Camps.

Howard said he and Mengarelli have long shared a similar vision and mission, one that revolves around collaboration. The two also share a love of mountain biking, though neither of their schedules these days seems to allow time to hit the trails.

“In the last four years, you have meant a lot to me, and helped me with direction. And I know where he lives,” Howard said.

Board President John Mackin also praised Mengarelli’s commitment to education, applauding him for having the courage to run for the seat at a time when the district was faced with closing schools, reorganization and selling off buildings.

“That just shows your heart and courage and your passion for kids,” Mackin said.

“I would do it all over again,” Mengarelli said, praising all of the PUSD teachers, staff and administrators who every year manage to stretch limited resources so they do the best for students.

He then applauded his fellow board members for their dedication and commitment that has put PUSD on “an amazing trajectory.”

“Thanks for a great ride,” Mengarelli concluded.

MAUREEN ERICKSON

Erickson and Howard also met in his office at Mile High Middle School.

Erickson was a new board member and wanted to know who things worked, showcasing a passion “that never slowed down, not for a minute.”

In her 32-year educational career – Erickson has a doctorate in education with an emphasis in vocational and special education transition – Erickson was dogged in her efforts to initiate new programs, particularly those focused on college and career pathways. And Howard said she was instrumental in making certain Prescott pursued those types of programs for their students.

He said she regularly checked in with him and other school staff, always offering professional encouragement and personal concern for making certain they take time for themselves, too.

Erickson knew that to be a strong leader one needs to create a proper “life balance,” he said.

Over the course of her tenure in what were some of the most difficult years in PUSD’s history, Howard said Erickson strived to make decisions to benefit generations of children. And she did. Howard declared her legacy of leadership enabled this district “to win a championship.”

“And she taught me you really can eat dessert first,” Howard said.

Board President John Mackin said she has inspired him, personally, as she always strived to ensure whatever decision were reached were ones aimed at making certain children in this district thrive.

Her take on it was that this was a team effort, calling the board and district administrators “people of integrity with a heart for children.”

“It’s been my honor to serve the district, the families, the teachers and the children,” Erickson said, noting her time on the board enabled her as a relative newcomer to call Prescott her “hometown.”

With fellow board members shedding tears, Erickson described her time as a “joy.”

“It’s been such a part of me.”