Name: Michelle Edwards, founder and principal of Arches Academy, 1150 W. Superstition Blvd. in Apache Junction.
Town/Neighborhood: Apache Junction
When/Why I moved here: We originally moved here about 18 years ago when our children were small. We needed a place we could afford to raise our family within a community that had the conveniences of a town without the congestion and issues associated with a larger city. We loved the hometown feel of Apache Junction and the genuine, down-to-earth people we met here. We were forced to move away for a time, but we are so glad to be back.
What I like most: I still love the people and the down-home feel of the community best. I love to associate with the hard-working, hard-playing people here. I also love the amazing scenery and being so close to nature.
What I do: I have been a teacher most of my life. I have been very pleased to now bring a new educational opportunity to the community in the form of a new K-8 charter school, Arches Academy. I am the Founder and principal of this totally different school.
What I like most about what I do: I love sharing knowledge with students of all ages. I love watching them get excited as they learn new things. In this new school, we get to see them learn in new ways and take ownership of their own learning and learn to love learning again. I think that’s my favorite thing of all.
Changes I’d like to see in the area: I love Apache Junction so much, there is little I would change. But I do want to change the reputation our schools have. From my own observations and from what I hear across our community, our schools have not been serving our students well. According to my research, one in five of us takes our kids outside of the city for school. I want us to be able to be proud of the education offered within the city limits again.
Favorite community cause and why: Education, in general, is my favorite cause. Our students are our future, and they deserve the best we can give them. We need to do all we can to further the educational cause across the community and demand the best for our kiddos, inside the schools and within our homes.
My Family: I have been married to the same wonderful man for over 30 years. We have raised six amazing children who are now all adults. Three of them are now married and we have five beautiful and brilliant grandchildren. Four of my children have now joined me in the education field. All six of them are kind, creative and hard-working people who are a blessing to those privileged to know them, as are their wonderful spouses.
My interests and hobbies: I love reading great fiction, sewing/quilting for my grandkids and camping.
The trait I admire in others: I admire others that love and serve others. I try to look for the love every day. It’s one reason I love my job, but I like seeing it everywhere.
People who inspired me: Perhaps it will not be a surprise to learn that those who inspired me most were mostly teachers who took the time to know me and my situation and help me learn and grow. I also deeply admire my mom who raised me and my siblings by herself. She is an amazing example of hard work and determination to me as she went to school and worked full-time trying to raise us in a world before being a single parent was well-accepted.
My guiding philosophy: Everyone is different and everyone is always doing the best they can with what they have. Thinking this way helps me remember to have compassion for others whatever their situation may be and to do my best to help anyone and everyone along the way.