Billy Todachennie, a former school board member, has spent 12 years working in public education and formerly served as the vice president of the Navajo Nation’s Aneth Chapter. Despite his extensive background in public service, Todachennie is not afraid to discuss his own challenges with education .
“I’m not an academically-inclined person. I have some of my handicaps in reading, writing… I use my own personal experience to help [students],” he said, regardless of students’ social or economic background.
A Montezuma Creek resident, Todachennie experienced his own educational setbacks growing up on the Navajo reservation.
If elected, he aims to increase graduation rates through increased parent engagement, including having parents sign a contract pledging to stay involved in their childrens’ education.
He also hopes to improve teacher retention by partnering with state and federal officials to offer incentives. Todachennie acknowledges the difficulty of teacher retainment, specifically on remote reservation lands since they cannot own property near the area. He also believes in equal distribution of taxpayer money for all San Juan County schools.
He wants to push for more practical learning skills in the classroom, such as a dual language initiative and digital literacy training. Todachennie hopes students will leave school with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their futures.
“I don’t want a group of students walking out of here without computer skills,” he said. “The world is moving in that direction.”
School safety is a priority, he said, alluding to the national conversation on schools’ emergency preparedness. Even county schools on the reservation or rural areas are not immune from the threat of violence, Todachennie said.