GOP Candidate For Idaho Schools Chief Sherri Ybarra Is A Political Newcomer

May 7, 2014

Credit Courtesy Sherri Ybarra

Sherri Ybarra is a career educator and accomplished student. And that’s about all she likes to reveal publicly. 

The Republican candidate for state superintendent of public instruction prefers to keep her personal life out the papers and keep the questions and answers focused on Idaho education.

“I’d rather not say,” Ybarra said repeatedly during a recent interview at a Mountain Home coffee shop. She denied a request to be interviewed at her home or her Mountain Home School District office.

She’s not a politician. Nor is she a name-dropper — she wouldn’t reveal the name of her campaign manager or treasurer, even though the latter position is public record. She won’t share a list of endorsements or supporters.

“I’m guilty of not being a polished politician,” she said.

But she stands at center stage running for one of Idaho’s most high-profile positions — leader of public education. Other than the governor, no other elected office has received more critique, criticism or scrutiny over the last five years than the one that oversees nearly half of the state budget and orchestrates education in Idaho.

“I’m very student-centered,” Ybarra said. “I tell people I’m running for three reasons: Kids. Kids. Kids.

“Now we’re done with this conversation.”

Who is Ybarra?

Ybarra married a military man and moved all over the country before landing in Mountain Home in 1996. She fell in love with the area and considers Idaho her home.

“Our roots are here. We aren’t going anywhere,” she said.

Ybarra would not share the name of her husband, though a family photo is on her website. She did say their teenage son attends public schools in Mountain Home. They are highly involved in their son’s baseball team — dad coaches — and the trio bowls every Sunday. “It’s dollar day,” Ybarra said.

Besides her family, Ybarra’s passion is furthering her education. She loves research.

“I’ve been a part-time student for 20 years,” she said.

Ybarra earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and a master’s in educational leadership. She also has an education specialist degree with an emphasis in superintendency.  She expects to receive her doctorate this summer.

“It intrigues me studying what works and what doesn’t,” Ybarra said. “I know what we need to work on in Idaho.”

Ybarra says she’s a positive person and she expects a lot out of her employees.

“I work very, very hard and I wouldn’t ask my employees to do anything I wouldn’t do,” she said. “I’m a product of good leadership and mentoring. Now it’s my turn.”

Click here to continue reading this feature from Idaho Ed News.