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Governing Board Members

Governing Board Members

Headshot of Mark Gonzalez smiling

Mark Gonzales, President

Born and raised in Avondale, Mr. Gonzales is a Logistics Manager for Carvana. He attended college in Merced, CA and Glendale Community College in Arizona working on a BA in Elementary Education. He is married and has two children, both graduates of the District. His grandchildren are fourth generation students of Avondale Elementary School District. He believes the District's main priority is optimizing the budget and recruiting the best teachers and staff members available. Mr. Gonzales enjoys helping and seeing the success of the children of the community, by serving on the Governing Board. He has been a member since January 1993, serving as President from 1997 to January 2017 and again in January 2019 to present.


Headshot of Robert Vernier

Robert Vernier, Vice President

Mr. Robert Vernier has served in public education since 2007. He was born and raised in a suburb just west of Detroit, MI and is a product of public schools. Mr. Vernier received his bachelor's degree in Communications Education from Eastern Michigan University in 2007, and his master's degree in School Counseling from Ottawa University in 2016. He spent nine years in the classroom before his current position as a school counselor at West-MEC.

Mr. Vernier is passionate about public schools and is dedicated to ensuring all students succeed. He has served on the board for Arizona Thespians since 2014, and completed the Fellowship Program with the Association for Career and Technical Education in Arizona. Mr. Vernier is a member of the Arizona and National School Counselor Association, as well as Arizona and National member of the Career Technical Education Association.

“I want to make sure that our students succeed. Every student has a different set of needs and they are often complex. We must do our best to be sure that we are preparing our community for its future needs in the best possible way.”


Headshot of Amy Lowe

Amy Lowe, Board Member

Ms. Lowe has been serving on the Avondale ESD school board since 2017. She moved from West Chicago, Illinois to Goodyear in 2013. She obtained a performance certificate from Berklee College of Music in Boston, both her Bachelor's Degree in Music Education and Master's Degree in Music from Northern Illinois University, and completed her Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Aurora University. Ms. Lowe has been teaching music to children of all ages in public schools since 2001. She strongly supports public education and advocates for arts education for all students. She is a member of AMEA, NAfME and Broadcast Music, Inc.

Ms. Lowe currently directs seven choirs at Desert Edge High School in Goodyear, assists as vocal/pit director for the spring musicals and teaches extracurricular choir groups for Avondale ESD students. Her experience with Avondale ESD was as a general music teacher/choir director for the 2013-2014 school year at Desert Thunder, Copper Trails, Wildflower, Lattie Coor and Avondale Middle School.

Ms. Lowe is a proud parent of her son, Dan Marino, who graduated with a vocal performance degree at the University of Arizona and is a choir director at Canyon View High School.  Ms. Lowe's husband, Tony DiMito, is a well known composer and musician. He works as a music editor for the Lopez vs Lopez show, and assists her with anything and everything related to music and her career.  


Headshot of Dr. Derek Etheridge

Dr. Derek Etheridge, Board Member

Dr. Derek Etheridge has served in public education since 2006.  He is originally from Wisconsin and moved to Arizona in 2006.  Dr. Etheridge earned his bachelor’s degree in Secondary Math Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his master’s degree in educational leadership from Capella University, a second master’s degree in accounting from Ottawa University, and a doctorate’s degree in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in K-12 Leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is also a Certified Administrator of School Finance and Operations through ASBO International.  Dr. Etheridge was a junior high math teacher, math content specialist, assistant principal, principal, Director of Federal Programs, and is currently the Executive Director of Business Services in the Cartwright Elementary School District. 

Dr. Etheridge is passionate about public schools.  He believes that all students should receive a high-quality, world-class education, and that all students are capable of success.

Dr. Etheridge is married and has two small children, Ariana, who attends Michael Anderson School, and Liam.  


Headshot of Leticia Castro

Leticia Castro, Board Member

Mrs. Leticia Castro moved from Laveen to Goodyear in 2010. She was born and raised in California. She has worked in the field of education for more than 20 years serving as recess monitor, teacher assistant, teacher, instructional coach, English Language Learner district coach, assistant principal and principal. She is currently the principal of John F. Long Elementary School in the Cartwright School District; and was previously the principal of Brunson Lee in the Balsz School District. She is most proud of leading her team to move the school from a "D" label to a "B".

Ms. Castro received her bachelor’s degree from Cal State Northridge in Liberal Arts with a Teaching Certificate, a master’s degree in Teaching from National University, and a second master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Grand Canyon University.  She is passionate about providing all scholars opportunities to find their passion and be successful. Ms. Castro believes that all students are capable of success, No Exceptions!  She knows that schools make a positive difference in the lives of students and their families; therefore, she is committed to having the best schools in our communities.

Ms. Castro is married and has three children, one in college, one a senior in high school, and one attending Wildflower Elementary School. All three children attended an AESD school at some point in their education. She participated in the City of Goodyear LEAD program and was encouraged and motivated to pursue a role in serving her community. Her husband, Fernando, is currently completing the LEAD program. She is looking forward to offering her experience and knowledge to make all AESD schools A-rated schools.