In a special Friday (March 10) meeting, the Moreno Valley High School (MVHS) Governing Council unanimously voted to appoint Ed McCracken and Sanjay Poovadan to the council.
Other than member Rogers Lanon, who quipped, “Why would you want this grief?” to appreciative laughter, council voted on the appointments with no discussion.
The Friday afternoon meeting was well attended by parents, community members and teachers, as well as Cimarron Municipal School District Superintendent Adan Estrada and school board members Bret Wier and Annie Lindsey.
The appointments follow a controversial (March 1) decision by the governing council to delay filling positions vacated by Tammy Dunn, who has stepped up as interim director at the school, and Patrick Espie, who resigned when his wife Debbie was hired to teach science at the school.
In an email to The Chronicle, McCracken said, “I’m committed to [finding] a world-class director to carry on the work as defined by our charter…. I’ve always thought the ‘tell’ when evaluating a community is how it invests in the future through education. I think it was Confucius who said (paraphrasing): To invest for one year, plant rice. To invest for ten years, plant trees. To invest for 100 years, educate children.”
A father and grandfather McCracken retired from a successful career as an electrical engineer and businessman, first at Hewlett-Packard, then at Silicon Graphics as President and CEO where his leadership led to the development of computers specifically designed for the creation and manipulation of 3-D images used both for movies and television in Hollywood, and mechanical design in many industries.
As a resident of the Moreno Valley, McCracken supported the creation of MVHS by funding the original infrastructure for the campus (about $160,000). He also funded an extra math teacher for five years. Additionally, Ed and wife Ana have funded many small activities through the Moreno Valley High School Foundation.
Ed McCracken currently serves on the advisory board for ALearn, a non-profit that supports underrepresented Silicon Valley junior high students prepare for college with algebra and college readiness summer programs, and he served as chairman of the board of directors for the Philanthropic Relief, Altruistic Service and Development (PRASAD) Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the economically disadvantaged world-wide – especially with cataract surgery.
Sanjay Poovadan comes to the governing council both as a parent and a devotee of the school’s Paideia teaching methodology. In his letter to the governing council, Poovadan noted that as a students of St. John’s College in Santa Fe (class of ’85), he was schooled in the then-new Paideia method, along with fellow classmate Michael Strong who went on to start several Paideia schools, including Moreno Valley High School.
According to Moreno Valley High School’s charter, the Paideia method, “embodies three approaches to teaching: Socratic seminar, academic coaching and didactic instruction. MVHS supports innovation, critical thinking and active student participation…. Students must analyze and solve complex problems, communicate clearly, synthesize information, apply knowledge, and generalize learning to other settings.”
Poovadan wrote, “For my partner, Marah Moore (St. John’s, ’84) and me, bringing our younger children to MVHS was never a question…. In 2014, our third child, Eli Cain graduated from MVHS and in 2014 our youngest, Alina, started out at MVHS. When she graduates in 2018 we will have completed 8 years as part of this community.”
In a text message to The Chronicle, he wrote, “I get the sense that everyone wants the best for the school and the children. And, with that principle as a guide, I think we will be fine.”
While at St. John’s College, Poovadan studied a “Great Books” curriculum in Spanish, French, Ancient Greek, Latin, Hindi using Socratic style seminars and tutorials.
“This school and the Paideia principles upon which it is founded are in my blood,” he wrote. “My interest in serving on the Governing Council stems from a deep interest in its continued success; this is an excellent and exceptional school – that very success is what brought us here to Angel Fire– and I want it to survive and thrive. I want my work, my time and my knowledge as a volunteer to help us keep MVHS and its founding philosophy vibrant and secure its place as an exceptional high school.”
Sanjay Poovadan works as a licensed real estate broker at The Lora Company in Taos. He has extensive experience in real estate as well as marketing. According to his resume, Poovadan was a consultant for companies like Peet’s Coffee, Restoration Hardware, Gymboree, Williams-Sonoma/Pottery Barn, The North Face, Smith and Hawken, Baja Fresh and Picture People. He was also a member of a real estate committee responsible for site selection, store layout, store design, for 80 stores, including The North Face, The Nature Company.
Since moving to Northern New Mexico he has served as a board member on Friends of Anansi Charter School in Arroyo Seco, Taos Soccer Coalition, Intermezzo of the Santa Fe Opera, Taos Winter Sports Team – (fka Taos Ski Team), Taos Land Trust, Quail Roost Foundation, as well as the Board of Visitors and Governors of St. John’s College and Board of the Alumni Association of St. John’s College.