New Ganado school board member has solid experience

Man seated in chair, University of Arizona baseball cap on floor under him, in front of serious-looking board members.

Navajo Times | Christopher S. Pineo
During an interview on Aug. 3, Allan Blacksheep answers questions from Apache County School Superintendent Robert “Barry” Williams, center. Jeff Udall and Ernest Begay, right, listen. Blacksheep received word of his appointment to the school board the same day.


Two hours after public interviews of three candidates for the Ganado Unified School District Governing Board on Aug. 3, Allan Blacksheep got a call to tell him he was chosen to fill some big shoes.

The community lost a school board member when Phillip Bluehouse, of Ganado, passed away in May.

“It’s going to be challenging to fill his shoes,” Blacksheep said.

Speaking with the Navajo Times about Bluehouse on Tuesday after the interviews, he described a man who had worked his way up from teaching assistant to teacher, principal, superintendent, and later a school board member.

Blacksheep described Bluehouse as a competent leader with a broad depth and width of experience in education.

“He accomplished a lot in education,” Blacksheep said. “That’s what I mean when I say it will be a big challenge to fill his shoes.”

But Blacksheep also brings strong experience in the education field. After receiving a degree in agricultural education from the University of Arizona, he went on to teach those skills.

Of his 15 years as a teacher, he spent 12 in the Ganado district. He later served on the school board himself for 20 years, before deciding not to run again in 2016.

He said he plans in this tenure to focus on teaching Diné ways in the district, a focus Bluehouse committed himself to as well.

“One thing I know about him is he was strong on tradition and beliefs,” Blacksheep said. “He was a practicing medicine man.”

Currently Blacksheep serves with the Office of Diné School Improvement under the Department of Diné Education, a post he has held since 1999. He said his work there focuses on data-driven applications of education methods. Close attention has to be paid to teaching methods, student improvement, and relevant information to move educational plans forward, he said.

“You want to find out where the learning is taking place, and you should use that as a gauge to make improvements to your teaching,” he said.

Apache County School Superintendent Robert “Barry” Williams conducted the interviews Aug. 3 with community members present at the administration building of the Ganado USD. The selection process fell to Williams rather than having a special election to fill spaces on the board, which he said would have been too costly for the district.

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Categories: Education

About Author

Christopher S. Pineo

Reporter Christopher S. Pineo's beats include education, construction, the executive branch, and pop culture. He also administers the Navajo Times Facebook page. In the diverse neighborhoods of Boston, Pineo worked, earned a master’s in journalism, and gained 10 years of newspaper experience. He can be reached at