BELEN—The Belen Board of Education is moving forward in the process to fill the District 1 seat, which is still vacant following the November 2023 regular local election. 

A special meeting will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Jan. 26, in the administrative building boardroom to interview the three candidates for the District 1 seat. 

District 1 incumbent Max Cordova did not run for reelection, and when filing day came, no one filed to run for the seat. A week later, Orlando Santillanes filed as a write-in candidate and ran for the seat unopposed. 

However, because he did not receive 100 votes, or 10 percent of the ballots cast in the race as required by state law, a certificate of election could not be issued to him by the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office and he was not elected to the seat, SOS public information officer Alex Curtas told the News-Bulletin. A total of 575 ballots were cast in District 1. 

The board of education put out a call for letters of interest from those interested in filling the seat. Four letters were submitted, however one applicant was disqualified because they did not live within District 1. 

The three letters accepted for consideration were from Pamela Golliheair, Megan Malcom-Morgan and Joanne Silva. 

In her letter of interest, Golliheair writes her 20-plus years in education “has given me experience in coordinating and overseeing program initiatives, optimizing the learning experience, staff development, curriculum planning, relationship building, community out reach and ensuring compliance. As a result, I have developed excellent communication, interpersonal, organization, critical thinking and people management skills, enabling me to effectively build and maintain relationships with stakeholders of various school communities.” 

Golliheair has been the principal at Raymond Gabaldon Elementary in the Los Lunas Schools district since 2022. She was the director of K-12 special education program for the Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque from 2009 to 2022.  

In addition, Golliheair taught at various LLS schools from 2001 to 2009, including seventh- and eighth-grade health, science and math, credit recovery at Century High School and served as an individual education plan facilitator at Los Lunas Middle School and CHS. 

Malcom-Morgan wrote in her letter that she was experienced in making decisions about school-wide curriculum and posses the ability to “work in a team atmosphere with board members, administrators, teachers and other faculty members, along with addressing the concerns of parents and all other stakeholders in our community. My experience has given me the opportunity to work with people of diverse backgrounds and views, which would make me an ideal candidate for the school board.” 

She has been an assigner for federal contracts with ADC LTD NM in Albuquerque since 2023. 

Prior to that, she worked for Through the Flower in Belen, an educational non-profit founded by feminist artist Judy Chicago, where she served as executive director from 2021 to 2023. 

From 2019 to 2021, Malcom-Morgan was an English teacher at Belen High School as well as the advanced placement coordinator. She was also a middle school language arts instructor from 2016 to 2019 at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Belen, and from 2011 to 2016, Malcom-Morgan was an English instructor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. 

Recalling an interaction with a professor who reminded her of the importance of giving back to her community, Silva wrote her professor “embedded in my thoughts that my path to success was paved by those before me. I want to continue in this tradition of helping others and passing on opportunity and hope. Providing teachers and school personnel with a safe and welcoming working environment is critical to attaining student success … My desire is to work with your well-established school board and join you in moving students forward in their academic and career journeys.” 

Silva has been a service coordinator with the New Mexico Department of Health’s Los Lunas Community program since 2022. Prior to that, from 2020 to 2022, she was an investigations worker with the Los Lunas Children Youth and Families Department office, and she was the director of special education for Belen Consolidated Schools from 2019 to 2020. 

From 2017 to 2019, Silva was an education diagnostician for BCS and the interim director of special education for the district. She served as assistant principal at Belen High School from 2013 to 2017 and was the La Promesa Elementary principal from 2010 to 2013. 

Silva’s work history in education stretches back to 1991 and includes time as an instructor at UNM, teaching at Mountainair High School, as well as several teaching posts with BCS and LLS. 

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.