Candidates Bring Variety of Backgrounds to Alpine School Board Race
Candidate Karrie Wilbur
Karrie Wilbur, a Utah native, has lived in Lehi for 26 years. She spent a few years of her early childhood in Tennessee, her teen years in Payson, Utah and her early adulthood in Boston, Massachusetts, where she met her husband.
Wilbur has worked as a teacher in the Canyons District—and before that, the Jordan District—for 21 years. She has taught 1st and 3rd grade, and currently teaches 5th grade. She holds an administrative license, but has chosen to devote her energy to teaching.
She holds two master’s degrees, one in Diversity in Education from the University of Phoenix and one in Administration in Education from Brigham Young University, as well as an endorsement in English as a Second Language from the University of Utah. She has served as an achievement coach, managing school data, tracking student achievement and assisting in providing interventions, and as a pre-service facilitator for the BYU school partnership.
This past year she attended the Teacher Leadership Initiative with the National Education Association. This experience ignited a previous passion and motivated her to run for the Alpine School Board. In Alpine School District, she said, a lot is done well. “Achievement, expectations and support are high,” she said. “We have excellent teachers and administration.”
She said she would like to see greater autonomy at the school level. “School community councils and local administrations know their communities best,” she said. “They should have autonomy over how they teach the curriculum, and over their own budgets.”
Wilbur and her husband are the parents of 13 children, six of whom are adopted.
Candidate Miriam Ellis Wang
Miriam Ellis Wang spent a good part of her childhood moving around the United States. She has lived in Utah for 12 years, and in Lehi for seven.
As a young woman, Ellis Wang moved to China, where she married and started a family. As a young mother, she taught in grade schools, founded and ran a school for young expatriates in Shanghai, and helped in schools where her oldest son attended class. She was also intimately informed about her husband’s experiences growing up in the Chinese education system.
Their experience with “the dysfunction of a centralized education system” motivated them to bring their family back to the United States for the remainder of their children’s education.
She and her husband have six children, the oldest in high school and the youngest not yet in Kindergarten. She has spent hundreds of hours volunteering in the classroom and on parent committees, both in public schools and charters.
“I understand the challenges and advantages of diversity in education,” she said. “I feel like our system has become extremely top-down. Mandates are passed down and we are expected to accept it or take our kids out of the public system. That isn’t right. I want to be represented, not told what to accept.”
Ellis Wang feels that Alpine School District is very well-managed, with skilled administrators handling the business of the district. She’d like to see “greater allowance for diversity of thought.”
“We are constantly being asked to accept what’s coming down from the top,” she said. “I’d like our local representatives to turn around and represent us to those passing down the mandates.”
Candidate Scott Carlson
Scott Carlson has lived in Lehi for 21 years, but his roots run much deeper. He was raised on a small farm in Washington, and after earning a degree in Civil Engineering from Brigham Young University, he returned to the family homestead in Lehi where his father and grandfather were raised.
A former math teacher at Salt Lake Community College, he owns a land surveying business in Lehi. His four children have all attended Lehi schools, with the youngest one set to attend Skyridge High School in the fall.
After spending many years volunteering with the PTA and School Community Councils, Carlson was serving on the Lehi High School Community Council when redistricting created a new Alpine School Board seat specifically for Lehi. He was encouraged by fellow council members to run for that seat, which he won in 2012.
He also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Utah High School Activities Association. “ASD does well in its focus on students,” he said. “Everything is geared toward students and their success.” He pointed out the variety of high school options in the district, including Polaris, the district’s alternative high school; Summit, the school for youth in custody; and the Alpine Transition and Education Center (ATEC), which assists graduates with special needs in gaining life skills.
The graduation rate has increased over the past decade from a rate in the high 70’s to over 92%, in part because of these accommodations for the different needs of students.
“It’s been a great experience to be there representing Lehi on the board,” he said. “I am excited for Skyridge to open and look forward to rebuilding Lehi High School over the next few years.”