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Meet the new Mancos school board members

New Mancos School District RE-6 Board of Education members Emily Hutcheson-Brown and Victor Figueroa.
New members with long-standing educational ties hopeful for future of district

Emily Hutcheson-Brown and Victor Figueroa were sworn in as new Board of Education members at a Mancos School District RE-6 meeting Nov. 15.

“They are established and thoughtful community members with extensive backgrounds in business and education, respectively,” Superintendent Todd Cordrey said in an email.

Figueroa is now vice president, and Hutcheson-Brown took on the role of treasurer.

They replace Boe Hawkins and Blake Mitchell and join board members Pamela Coppinger, Katie-Cahill Volpe and Tim Hunter. Their positions were uncontested.

Emily Hutcheson-Brown
Emily Hutcheson-Brown, the new treasurer for the Mancos School District RE-6 Board of Education.

Born in Durango and raised in Montezuma County, Hutcheson-Brown attended school in Cortez and graduated from Mancos High School.

She almost ran for a position on the board last term. However, she said, her husband began battling pancreatic cancer, and the timing wasn’t right.

Now, despite the hardships of navigating life as a single mother, it is.

Hutcheson-Brown’s life has long been intertwined with education. Her mother, father and stepfather were all teachers in the Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1. Her family has also run the Hogan Trading Post for the past 37 years.

Knowing she wanted to pursue business herself, she attended Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction before moving to Phoenix, where she gained additional background in accounting at Arizona State University.

In Phoenix, she worked at a law firm before entering the nonprofit world with a job at the Make a Wish Foundation.

Now, she serves as the chief operating officer of V’s Barbershop – which has locations across the country – mostly working remotely.

Seven years ago, she moved back to Mancos to help out with her family’s store and begin schooling her son, now in sixth grade, in a smaller district.

Although she spent about two decades away from Southwest Colorado, Hutcheson-Brown said she has roots in the area and returned every year.

Hutcheson-Brown has served on the PTA and district accountability committee and attended board meetings.

“I know a lot of the people in the schools, and it was natural for me to get involved,” she said. “My family and their involvement in education, and just my want to kind of give back a bit in a way that I was capable of led me to consider running for the board.”

Board experience on the International Salon and Spa business network also prepared her for this new endeavor, she said.

She’s nostalgic, now supporting the school where she once roamed the hallways – and where her son will, too.

In fact, former Superintendent Brian Hanson was her high school algebra teacher.

“That district, that school is really the heart of this community in so many ways,” she said.

Her main priority is improving communication within the district, taking advantage of technological advancements, she said.

“I've seen that struggle for many years,” she said.

Her other main goal is pushing standards and offering more opportunities to high-achieving students, like concurrent enrollment, she said.

“I think as long as we do the good work, and we make sure that we're all operating with the same goals and the same general direction, then we'll work cohesively as a board very well, and this district seems to do that really well,” she said. “There's very little contention in this district compared to some surrounding districts.“

Victor Figueroa
Victor Figueroa, the new vice president for the Mancos School District RE-6 Board of Education.

Retired now, Victor Figueroa had a 30-year career in education, but he’s dipping back into the sphere of childhood cultivation.

Much of his time as an educator was spent in Durango, where he cycled through a variety of positions: assistant superintendent, special education director, director of operation, assistant principal, elementary school principal and middle school assistant.

Like Hutcheson-Brown, he’s a graduate of Colorado Mesa University.

Originally from Hoboken, New Jersey, he traded his life back East for a baseball career in the West, and he hasn’t looked back the past 45 years.

He studied in Grand Junction before moving to California. Drafted by the Oakland A’s in the fifth round of the 1984 amateur draft, he played for four teams and four seasons, including his rookie season, in the minor leagues.

He later moved back to Colorado, launching his career in education in Grand Junction, where he spent an additional 13 years.

“I felt like my background and my experiences and education could really support the school district,” he said. “And I felt like it was a good opportunity for me to continue to do what I can for education because of how committed and passionate I’ve been in the field.”

Figueroa’s wife is a teacher in the school district, and he has two children in high school.

His main focus is supporting the district in its transition to project-based learning, helping teachers to master the associated concepts and strategies while ensuring connection with the larger Mancos community.

“I think the sign of a healthy school district is its culture and climate,” he said. “So it’s really important that we have support that can help improve and continue to enhance the culture and climate of our school district.”

He wants every student to feel empowered to pursue whatever path they may choose beyond graduation – whether that be continuing education, joining the workforce or entering the military.

“I want to make sure that when we think about achievement, we just don't think about academics, but we think about the whole child, that their social-emotional needs are being met,” he said.

Figueroa said he wants members of the district – community members and teachers alike – to feel comfortable approaching him with new ideas.

“I'm available to listen to anyone that has anything that they'd like to say,” he said. “I just want to be available to stay in touch with that pulse that's going on school district.”