January 3, 2005
Suzanne Davis had a keen interest in education when she first ran for the Mesa Unified School District’s governing board eight years ago.
Each of her 11 children passed through Mesa schools. After teaching health in Scottsdale and Mesa for seven years, the retired teacher wanted to be a voice for educators.
"It was challenging," Davis said. "I loved it,"
Now, Davis is settling in for a new life of retirement while awaiting the births of her 33rd and 34th grandchildren.
As her youngest child turned 21 this year, she decided it was time to make her school board seat available to parents with children still attending Mesa schools.
Davis, 56, and fellow eightyear board member Tom Rhodes, 58, step down this month, creating the first major change in the school board in six years.
Davis took a special interest in the district’s curriculum. She said she was proud to represent the state’s largest school district, which strives to provide the best education despite funding struggles.
"We wanted to get the most and best we could for our employees, to work on a budget that makes everything fair and gives the most to our kids," Davis said.
Rhodes, a stockbroker and son of the late U.S. Rep. John Rhodes, was the money guru on the board at times of budget balancing.
Like Davis, his two children have graduated from Mountain View High School and are now adults.
Rhodes grew up in Washington, D.C., and was there when President Richard Nixon resigned and when both Kennedys were killed.
But he decided against following his brother, Jay, and his father in running for Congress and instead focused on raising his family and improving local schools.
"There have been years when we really had to scrimp to make a budget," he said. "We succeeded in not ever cutting programs or anything like that, and we have not had to lay anybody off."
The two new board members are Lynn Burnham and Richard Crandall, who both have children in the district.