Armida Bittner has served as Gila County's Superintendent of Schools since 1988. She was first appointed to the post in March 1988, then elected to it in November. She would like to keep the job.
The Globe native left high school to marry at the age of 16. After starting a family, she earned her General Education Development Certificate, then went on to obtain an Associate of Arts degree, a Bachelor of Arts and a master's degree in bilingual education.
In addition to serving as Gila County School Superintendent, she is on the Arizona State Board of Education, appointed by Gov. Janet Napolitano in Jan. 2003.
Before her appointment to the county post, she was an elementary language arts and bilingual resource teacher in the Globe Unified School District.
"One of our biggest accomplishments in the superintendent's office is the implementation of an Education Service Agency," she said.
The agency provides a means to secure extra funds for programs and services the school districts of the county require.
Among these services are a variety of professional development opportunities; business administration assistance through workshops to keep school business personnel up on the latest requirement; and recruitment and retention of teachers for the county's schools.
She said it also includes special projects, an information clearing house and legislative liaison services.
Bittner explained the special projects program provides a law-enforcement officer for law related education programs in a consortium of small county schools; the Tobacco Free Environment program; and the new Gila Distance Learning project.
"Our new Gila Distance Learning project should be operational within the next month," Bittner said. "It grew out of our mandate to serve the youth in the detention center. It allows the districts to keep the students on their rolls for funding purposes."
In addition to providing resources for the public schools, Bittner said her office also helps parents who are home-schooling their children.
"It's a very challenging time for education right now, but it is also a very good time," she said. "We're here to help districts address issues of concern. There's a lot to this office."
"I believe that an education is essential in becoming a responsible, contributing citizen," Bittner said. "Completing one's education enriches not only you personally, but those with whom you interact -- family, friends, or acquaintances. I share my GED experience and many people have often expressed how they have been challenged to continue their own education. I am proud of this and feel that I have touched their lives.
"I believe we are all life-long learners. You are never too old to learn something new."