Debbie Bayes

Debbie Bayes

Intercultural competence trainer joins Stanwood-Camano School Board

The board unanimously appointed Debbie Bayes to replace Ken Christoferson, who resigned in December.

STANWOOD — Debbie Bayes, an intercultural consultant and trainer, will join the Stanwood-Camano School Board.

The board unanimously appointed Bayes to fill a vacancy left by Ken Christoferson. Christoferson, the longest-serving board member in district history, resigned from the board in December.

Bayes, 51, graduated from Stanwood High School and has since worked locally, nationally and internationally. Her resume includes time as a private school teacher in Seattle, an adjunct university professor, a nanny, a driver’s education teacher and an academic researcher.

Her research focused on “developing intercultural competence,” or the ability to work with people from different cultural backgrounds. Specifically, she worked with reconciliation workers in Israel and Palestine. Her safety often depended on her intercultural skills, she said.

“Israel and Palestine might seem really removed from Stanwood-Camano, but I would say the skills I learned there are very much needed here,” Bayes told the board during an interview Monday night. “The skills are the ability to listen to and deeply understand even people who see the world differently than I do; the ability to be a bridge builder between individuals and groups who are in conflict; the ability to help individuals and groups to find common ground and creative ways forward which benefit everyone in situations where that might seem impossible. I know these are the kinds of skills you use all the time as directors.”

The district has reasserted its intolerance of racism after investigators determined that students used slurs at a football game in November. Bayes said she has followed the news and feels like “I’m watching from the sidelines” when she could be helping. She was encouraged to apply for the position by friends in the district, she said.

As a self-employed consultant, Bayes usually works independently. She said she looks forward to the team dynamic of the school board.

“I like learning, all the time, I’m forever a student as well as a teacher,” Bayes told The Herald in a phone interview. “I’ve gone to a few board meetings, and it’s just been fascinating to see how complex it is to run a school district, and all the pieces that go into that.”

Bayes will serve until the next regular election in November 2023.

Mallory Gruben is a Report for America corps member who writes about education for The Daily Herald.

Mallory Gruben: 425-339-3035;; Twitter: @MalloryGruben.

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