Published On: Fri, May 29th, 2015

JLC Meet the Candidates: Painttown School Board





The Junaluska leadership Council (JLC) hosted the candidate forum for Painttown School Board on Tuesday, May 26 in the Tribal Council Chambers.  Each candidate was given an opportunity to present their platform, answer two standard questions, then given randomly-selected questions.


Charlotte Saunooke - Painttown School Board MemberIncumbent Charlotte Saunooke announced her approximation of 24 years of experience in Cherokee Central Schools including being involved in her children’s education, extra-curricular activities, and serving on the Painttown school board.  Saunooke spoke about the importance of hiring, retaining, and reducing the turnover rate of highly qualified teachers.  She spoke about the agriculture opportunity she helped initiate at the Cherokee High School.  She said, “These are the types of opportunities and programs I feel school board members should bring to the school system.  Opportunities for children to excel and enhance skills they may have. I remain diligent on creating an environment that is dedicated to academic excellence for our children.”

Trista Welch - Painttown School Board CandidateCandidate Trista Welch said she decided to run for school board at the age of 17.  She said, “I love our school system and do everything I can to contribute to its success whenever possible.  I’m a very strong-minded but fair person.  I’m not influenced by outside people or political pressure.  When I make decisions, I make sure I have all the information I need and I consider every angle and I always remain fair.  As an alumni, a parent, and community member, the success of this school system is my number one priority.”



  1. As students, we don’t ever see any school board members. If elected would you visit the schools?  What other techniques would you use to find out what’s going on at our school?

Saunooke: “As a school board member and policy making board, a lot of our work is done in meetings.  However, I’ve been asked by a lot of elementary school teachers to read to the students.  We try to make any extra-curricular events as we can.”

Welch: “I’m already pretty active with the school.  I attend most of the sporting events.  I also serve on the school improvement team and talk about what other schools are doing well, what we do well, and what we need to improve.”


  1. Do you think the Cherokee culture and language are implemented enough into our school system?

Saunooke: “I do. From elementary to high school there is a mandatory 30 minutes each day of Cherokee culture.  We recently approved the budget and staffing for Cherokee Cultural Summer School.

Welch: “I do not think they are implemented enough at the higher levels.  I believe it needs to be implemented more.  Classes like biology can be teaching Cherokee words at the same time.  I think it needs to be increased at the high school.



  1. What is your plan to improve our school system?

Saunooke: “Retaining the teachers that we have and provide that consistency for students.  We’re going to work on having accelerated classes at the high school level.  Working with more colleges where our classes will work into their schedule.”


  1. If elected into the school board, what is your main goal to improve our school system?

Welch: “I really want to try to create an initiative to motive kids to attend school on a regular basis and increase their grades.  I want to try to bring back more Cherokee language into the classroom, not just Cherokee language class but other classrooms as well.”