Hazelwood School Board Candidates

The Hazelwood School District board race hasn’t prompted any major controversy. Incumbents Brenda Youngblood, Ann Gibbons and Chuck Woods are on the ballot along with Donna Harrell-Saddle and Dave Pilla. Candidate biographies are below:

Brenda Youngblood, Ph.D., was elected to the Hazelwood School Board in 2011. She resides in unincorporated North County Dr. Youngblood is a graduate of Central Missouri State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She received her master’s degree from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and a doctorate in special education from St. Louis University.

She began her teaching career with East St. Louis School District 189. In 1972, she joined the Hazelwood School District as a guidance counselor at Russell Elementary School and later worked at Walker Elementary School.

She was the principal at both Keeven and McCurdy elementary schools, a position she held for 22 years until her retirement.  She is currently an adjunct professor in the graduate school at Lindenwood University and works with other administrators in the Missouri Schools Improvement Grant Program.

Some of Youngblood’s accomplishments and awards include: area coordinator of nine Missouri chapters for Phi Delta Kappa; chair of the St. Louis Principals’ Academy; Harvard University Summer Institute for Principals; St. Louis American’s Salute to Excellence award; Metropolitan St. Louis Alliance of Black School Educators award; Iota Phi Lambda’s Apple for the Teacher award.Youngblood is an Advanced Certified Board Member, received through the Missouri School Board Association. She has two adult children and five grandchildren.

Ann Gibbons, elected to the Hazelwood School Board in 1981, is running for her 12th term as a Board Member She currently resides at 12345 Space Drive and has lived in the Hazelwood School District for 53 years.

Gibbons and her late husband have five children, and have been host parents of 12 exchange students. All of the Gibbons children have graduated from Hazelwood Central or Hazelwood East High schools. Gibbons also has 11 grandchildren.

She is a 1950 graduate of St. Agnes Academy and has worked for New York Bell Telephone Company and Southern Bell Telephone Company as a Representative and a Union Steward.

She has been active in the PTA for 46 years, has served on attendance area committees, was a HSD Key Communicator and  active in Hazelwood Booster Clubs.

Ann has been a volunteer for Girl Scouts for 48 years. She  was a coordinator for Youth for Understanding (YFU) International Student Exchange Program for 25 years and was awarded the YFU Volunteer Excellence Award.

She was president of the Transfiguration School Board and is an active member of St. Angela Merici Roman Catholic Church. She was  recipient of the Community Service Award for St. Louis, Commerce Bank.

Gibbons received the Missouri School Board Association’s Gold Boardsmanship Award for Outstanding Participation, and she is a Master Certified Board Member.  In July 2013, Gibbons was honored with a Pioneers in Education Award at the  Cooperative Conference for School Administrators.

Chuck Woods resides at 1770 Aspen Drive in Florissant with his wife Donna.

They have one son who attended grades K-12 in the Hazelwood School District and three grandchildren who currently attend Hazelwood West Middle and West High schools.

Woods earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Southeast Missouri State University, and his master’s degree and a specialist certification from Southern Illinois University.

He retired from HSD in 2002 after having been an elementary principal for 34 years. He served 14 years at Lusher Elementary, 10 years at Cold Water Elementary, and 10 years at Barrington.

Woods, who is a member of St. Andrew United Methodist Church, has held various leadership positions at St. Andrews and beyond the local church. He has also been active with the North Star District Boy Scouts of America for many years, serving on the District Committee, as a member of the Eagle Scout Board of Review, as well as chair of the Eagle Scout Board of Review, Advancement and Membership committees. In 1993, the North Star District conferred upon Woods the Polaris Award for meritorious service to the district.

He was a member of Hazelwood 1st committee, elementary student conduct code revision committee and High Schools that Work committee. As a principal, he served on numerous District committees over his 34 years of employment.

Woods has earned the Master Board Certification,the highest level of certification offered by the Missouri School Board Association.

Donna Harrell-Saddler serves as special education area coordinator at various schools throughout the Hazelwood School District and as an assistant principal at Hazelwood Central High School. She has spent her 24 year career in education which includes 11 years as a classroom teacher of students with special needs as well as students in general education and 13 years as an administrator. Harrell-Saddler was recently nominated for a Lasting Impression Award by the Special School District. She is planning to retire this year.

A graduate of St. Alphonsus (Rock) High School, Harrell-Saddler received her undergraduate degree from Harris Stowe State University and her graduate degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. A veteran of the armed forces, she served as a member of the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War era. After discharge from active duty, she continued to serve as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves for six years.

Harrell-Saddler resides in Florissant and is married to Mitchell, a retired veteran of the U.S. Army.  Together they have three children and three grandchildren. Prior to moving to Florissant in 2003, Harrell-Saddler was an active resident of Berkeley,  where she served as a member of the city’s Board of Adjustment. As a member of the board, she heard Zoning and Subdivision Codes appeals. In addition, Harrell-Saddler also volunteered and served on various neighborhood and school committees.

Harrell-Saddler is a member of the Universal Church of Jesus Christ, where she has served as church clerk, social director for Adults and Young People.

Dave Pilla retired from AT&T in 2012 after 32 years of service. During his tenure there, he held several positions in the corporation’s IT department.  Some of the positions he held included: , design, architecture, as well as various management positions.

Pilla graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in North St. Louis County where he was recognized by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a scholar athlete. After graduation, Pilla attended Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau where he graduated cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in education (secondary level math) and computer science.

Since his retirement, Pilla has split his time between volunteer work and part-time    employment. He works part-time for Dorsey Tree Service, and also volunteers with several community organizations including the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Angela Merici Parish.

“As a member of the Society of St Vincent DePaul I work with Vinnie’s Autos, an outlet of St. Vincent DePaul which accepts donations of vehicles and prepares the donated vehicles for those in need,” Pilla explained. “After I retired in 2012, I started a part-time job, mostly for exercise, and I also became more involved in my parish.

Pilla and his wife, Debbie, have five children: Gabriel, an IT professional with a local firm; Rachel, a graduate student at University of Miami-Ohio; Jake, a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia; Sam, a student at Missouri University of Science & Technology (formerly University of Missouri-Rolla); and Chris, a senior at DeSmet High School.


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