Longest serving Guam education board member gets national recognition

Maria Gutierrez, the longest-serving member of the Guam Education Board, has been given the National Association of State Boards of Education's (NASBE) 2020 Distinguished Service Award.

Maria Gutierrez, the longest-serving member of the Guam Education Board, has been given the National Association of State Boards of Education’s (NASBE) 2020 Distinguished Service Award.

This national award honors current and former state board members who have made exceptional contributions to education. It is given to three outstanding leaders each year and is the highest award NASBE can bestow on a state board of education member.

In her 23 years of service, Gutierrez has been a strong advocate for students and families, always ensuring their voices are heard by the board. She was instrumental in creating a seat for a parent and student on the Guam board and, for the last six years, has served as the board’s advisor to student board members.

Gutierrez has been both chair and vice chair of the Guam Education Board. Under her leadership, the board developed several policies to prevent student and educator harassment, intimidation, bullying, and cyberbullying and to ensure student safety and data privacy on the internet.

She testifies regularly on the department of education’s annual fiscal budgets and led the approval of Guam’s school reopening plans this summer. Gutierrez has been actively involved in NASBE study groups and is a member of the Public Education Positions Committee.

“Her exemplary leadership, unselfish service, commitment, and passion for providing students with opportunities to explore and learn has been the catalyst for improving public education on Guam,” says board vice chair Mark Mendiola. “She is devoted to ensuring Guam students receive the skills they need to succeed and believes it is critical that every student has the opportunity to get a good education on Guam without having to endure extreme hardships and hurdles, most especially now during the global pandemic.”

“Her passion and dedication to the students of Guam is apparent in her unyielding and tireless drive, as well as her willingness to go the extra mile to work with elected leaders and community organizations to ensure that our schools get the support they need,” GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said. “She is most deserving of this award and I look forward to continuing to work alongside her as we address important educational issues that impact Guam’s nearly 30,000 school children and their families.”

“The 2020 Distinguished Service Award winners represent the very best in citizen leadership in America,” says NASBE President and CEO Robert Hull. “State boards of education remain a steadfast bastion of non-partisan discourse and policy making at it’s very best; and this year’s distinguished service awardees represent all that is good about that process. Strong proponents of stakeholder engagement, strategic planning, and a firm focus on equity are but a few of their stellar traits. Hats off to our 2020 Distinguished Service Awardees!”

The 2020 Distinguished Service Awards will be presented October 21 at NASBE’s virtual annual conference.

NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances.