Recording: Meet the Superintendent Candidates

Recording: Meet the Superintendent Candidates
Posted on 03/17/2021
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Watch a recording of our virtual Community Forum to meet the candidates for Salt River Schools Superintendentwhich was aired live on MS Teams and Facebook on April 13.

Time Stamps
Each candidate received 5 minutes to answer each question; we switched up the order of who went first every time. Please note: These time stamps are based on the recording from MS Teams and may not match the recording above from Facebook. The time will be off by only a few seconds. We appreciate your understanding!

  • 00:32 Introduction (EDU HR Director Jeralynn Beghetto)
  • 03:19 Prayer (SRPMIC Councilwoman/EDU Board Member Wi-Bwa Grey)
  • 06:07 Brief introduction from the candidates.
  • 09:12 What are your top 3 superintendent-specific engagement goals with students and families?
  • 18:18 Name a time when you identified strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions to problems. What was the impact?
  • 29:40 None of you have previous Superintendent experience based on the bios you have provided. What has prepared you to take on such an important and critical role, and please emphasize your vision and plan in improving the organization and most importantly, student outcomes
  • 44:20 What would your curriculum be geared toward? Would you implement learning a trade which would help our Community members in their professional careers?
  • 56:32 Salt River High School closed last year. There are many positives about Salt River Schools despite the closure. How would you build on those positives to create an exceptional learning environment and first-class school community?
  • 1:09:37 Thinking of a recent pop culture media that you’ve consumed, tell us what it was and why you would recommend it?
  • 1:14:34 As Superintendent, how willing are you to immerse yourself into the culture and language of our Community? Also, to support programs geared toward our culture and language programs?
  • 1:27:08 What experience or knowledge do you as a perspective candidate with credit recovery schools held on Native land, such as what we have here in Salt River?
  • 1:38:53 How would you address declining enrollment numbers? What is your student retention plan for Salt River Schools?
  • 1:52:07 Candidate Final Thoughts
  • 1:56:55 Next steps in the Superintendent Search process (Education HR Director, Jeralynn Beghetto)

The candidates received these questions (and guidelines) on Friday, April 16, and were asked to submit at least one answer from each question category (their responses have not been edited):

Meet the Salt River Schools Superintendent Candidates

The bios below were written and submitted by the candidates with minimal editing from Salt River Schools. We are sharing them in alphabetical order. Please use the SurveyMonkey link above to submit any questions you may have for the candidates. 

Derek Begay
It is my honor to introduce myself to the community of Salt River. I grew up in New Mexico and lived on the Navajo reservation for most of my life. I have worked in New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. I have earned multiple degrees and continue to be a life-long learner in all that I do professionally and personally, as well.
Photo of Derek Begay, 2021 SRS Superintendent candidate.

I was a teacher for five years and have been in various roles as an administrator for the last nine years. I have worked for schools with at least a 95 percent Native American student population. Education, learning, and knowledge are priorities in my life; these priorities have been my foundation and have helped propel me in my education, understanding my language, respecting my culture, and appreciating the people and opportunities in my life. I am passionate about Indigenous cultures and sustaining our communities by empowering and educating our youth, involving our families and community, and respecting and learning from our elders. I am looking forward to meeting everyone virtually and welcome all the questions you have.


  • Bachelor of Arts in political science
  • Bachelor of Arts in history
  • Master’s degree in secondary education
  • Post-master’s certificate in educational leadership
  • Doctoral candidate in educational administration and leadership (completed all but dissertation)


  • Arizona
    o Superintendent
    o Principal
  • New Mexico
    o K-12 Administration
    o 7-12 Teaching Certification
    o K-12 Coaching
  • Utah
    o K-12 Administration

Tribal Affiliation: Navajo Nation (Clans: Towering House & Sleeping Rock)

George Martin
George Martin has been a transformative educational leader for more than 20 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences with a minor in teacher education. He also earned a Master of Arts degree in educational administration with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction. Currently, Mr. Martin is a doctoral candidate in educational leadership at Northern Arizona University.
George Martin - 2021 SRS Superintendent Candidate
Throughout his career, Mr. Martin has taught high school biology, chemistry, and environmental science. He has chaired numerous school committees, served in various leadership roles within K-12 and postsecondary schools, led school improvement initiatives, and has played a critical role in many aspects of professional development for teachers and staff. Additionally, Mr. Martin has been extensively involved in school reform throughout his career, during which he has had the opportunity to design public charter schools and work with various districts across the country in a school reform capacity to improve teaching and learning.

Mr. Martin is passionate about developing culturally responsive systems that meet the needs of all students. He believes that honoring students, their families and their communities is a necessity, and that stronger, more authentic community outreach—as well as youth empowerment and leadership development—are necessary components to closing achievement gaps.

Mr. Martin believes that all students can learn but each learns differently and at different rates. He believes that with hard work and perseverance we can reach each student in a special way. Keeping the atmosphere positive and safe is the key to success as well as keeping the lines of communication open among staff, students, parents, and the community. He feels that teamwork is the ultimate way a school can be successful in reaching the goal of helping a student attain his or her full potential.

Delbert Ortiz
Sa ap a’i masma? My name is Delbert M. Ortiz. I am a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation. I am interested in the superintendent position at Salt River Schools. I began my education career by teaching in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community [Editor’s note: Desert Eagle Secondary School, 1999-2003]. My experience was very rewarding and inspired me to further my education and make a significant impact in Indian education.
Delbert Ortiz - 2021 SRS Superintendent Candidate
As a Native American school administrator, I believe that the students on the reservation deserve the same high quality education that is offered in a city public school setting. I operate with a student-centered approach.
I believe that every student is capable of learning. I have high expectations for staff, students, and parents. I believe that all students are capable of competing academically, regardless of their background. I believe that each child deserves to have access to the highest level of educational opportunities.

Leadership Style
Democratic/Participative: I involve and include staff in school planning and decision making.


  • Experienced Instructional Leader: Made AYP 10+ Years
  • Successful with Native American students, schools, communities
  • Continuous School Improvement Cycles
  • Strong Advocate
  • Building Partnerships
  • Accountability

I have 21 years of practice working in the education field, mostly as an administrator. I began my administrative career on my own reservation, Tohono O’odham Nation, as Director (Administrator) for Ha:san Preparatory & Leadership School (a charter high school) in Tucson, Arizona. I transitioned to work in the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) school system serving 11 years at Santa Rosa Ranch School in Sells, Arizona.

After serving my tribe, I left to support other tribal schools, students, and communities. I worked with Dulce Independent School District on the Jicarilla Apache Nation (my wife’s tribe) in Dulce, New Mexico. Currently, I am employed as a Principal with BIE ADD Navajo at Dennehotso Boarding School. These administrative positions have allowed me to gain valuable experience at the building and central office (principal and superintendent responsibilities) administration levels, as well as implementing rigorous school improvement during the NCLB legislation.

As a candidate, I have an experienced background in establishing school improvement efforts and improving Indian education. I have successfully transformed a BIE elementary school from Federal NCLB School Improvement status to Making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). I have Made AYP for 12 consecutive school years (2003-2014) in a public high school and Bureau of Indian Education elementary school.

I have worked in school systems near or on reservations. I have worked in public, charter, tribal, and BIE school systems. I have experience networking with local tribal programs, higher education institutions (community colleges and universities), state, and federal entities in creating a support system for partnerships with classrooms, schools, staff, students, parents, and community. These collaborations provide students with valuable career exploration and college preparatory opportunities.

I recognize the importance of data and data analysis. The data-driven decision making relies on the ability to analyze data and identify strengths and weaknesses. This is instrumental in establishing an effective school improvement plan, aligned instruction, and an interventions program. This allows the school improvement process to take place with established short term and long term planning.

I have always functioned with a sense of urgency in establishing and reaching benchmarks in improvement. I value training for staff by prioritizing high quality professional development opportunities. Staff will be encouraged to pursue opportunities for professional growth. This focus on increasing the skills of our educators results in improved classroom instruction for our students.

I intend to make myself available to parents and community by hosting a monthly “Coffee with the Superintendent'” session. In my previous school positions, parents have appreciated this opportunity to get together for school updates, participate in trainings, provide parent input and feedback, and be involved in the education process.

As an Indian administrator, I embrace and support the culture, history, and language of the people. I feel this is an important component of the student and community identity. I would value the opportunity to expand upon what has been done in this area within the school system.

It would be an honor to serve in this community. I will strive to ensure that Salt River Schools develops into an efficient and effective learning institution prioritizing the student.

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