Anna Edwards

Acting K-12 Manager & Chandler Unified School District Advisor

Hello my name is Anna Edwards, but everyone calls me Ame.  I am the acting K-12 Manager and Chandler Unified School District Advisor for Gila River Indian Community.  My paternal family is from District 4 Santan. My maternal family is from Casa Grande.  I am half Akimel O’otham, a quarter French, and a quarter Hispanic.

In January, I celebrated 26 years working for the Gila River Indian Community within different capacities of the Education Department. I started as a teacher’s assistant at the District 3 Head Start and worked my way up to the Assistant Manager of the Early Education Child Care Center located in Sacaton, Az.  

In 2009, I received my Associates degree from Central Arizona College, and in 2015 I graduated from Arizona State University with my Bachelor’s degree.  I love working with children and the youth.  I also like getting to know the families.  I am here to help in any way that I can.

As an advisor, I will be going to all the high schools and seeing the students twice a month. I will talk to them about their attendance, grades, and anything else they would like to discuss.  I am here for your concerns, and to be a listening ear to the students and families.  I thank you and look forward to working with your young people.

Kenyen Thompson

Jr. High

Hello, my name is Kenyen Thompson, I am member of the Gila River Indian Community from the village of Gu’u Ki (Sacaton) I have been with the Education Department for 9 years. I began within Administration and have been with the K-12 program for the past 5 years. Currently I serve Coolidge Jr High students, previously I serviced high school students in the Tempe High School District and Casa Grande Union High. I am very proud of the work our program provides for the students of the community as each Advisor adds a special talent to our team which is beneficial in making sure our students succeed throughout their high school career.

Phone: (520) 610-0273

Richard Blackwater

(CAP) Coolidge Virtual Academy

My name is Richard Blackwater; I am a Gila River K-12 Student Adviser at the Coolidge Alternative Program in Coolidge. I am a GRIC Tribal Member D-2.

I have worked with Tribal Education for 9 years and have enjoyed every minute of my job. My greatest moments are watching my students receive their High school Diplomas.

Phone: (520) 610-3389


Anna Blackwater

Grades 9-12

Anna Blackwater is the daughter of Renelda and Daniel Blackwater. She is a mother of five and a Gila River Indian Community community member coming from the Gila Crossing Village located in District Six. She received an Associates in Arts and an Associates in General Studies from South Mountain Community College. In which she was honored to be a Student Speaker at the 2019 American Indian Convocation for Maricopa Community Colleges. Anna is currently attending Arizona State University to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications. Anna loves working for her community. Currently as a K-12 Student Advisor she enjoys working for and empowering the youth as she helps the youth to be successful in their high school education. Anna also enjoys traditional O’odham basket dancing along with the women in her family and her eldest daughter.

Phone: (520) 610- 4195

Off Reservation Boarding Schools

Ivy Namingha

Grades 9-12

My name is Ivy Namingha. I am Akimel O’odam/Hopi; I come from the villages of Gu’u Ki (Sacaton), Ush Kehk (Blackwater), and Shungopavi (2nd Mesa). My mother is Akimel O’odham and my Father is Hopi. I currently reside in Ush Kehk with my mother and my two beautiful children.

I received my High School diploma from Riverside Indian School, Anadarko, Oklahoma, and attend South Mountain Community College and Chandler-Gilbert Community College for Child Development and Family Life Education. I started working as an Off-Reservation Boarding School Advisor in 2018. Prior, I worked at the Early Education/Child Care Center for seven years. I had the privilege of teaching and caring for students, age 0-5 years old. All together I have been working for the Tribal Education Department since 2011.

During my time working as a Boarding School Advisor, I helped coordinate the El Paso Natural Gas and Honeywell for two years, I worked with various students who live on and off-reservation, who attend private high schools. I am currently serving both Boarding Schools and freshman at Betty Fair Fax High School. I am thankful for this opportunity to advise and help students and families.


Catherine Zepeda

Grades 9-12

Hello, my name is Catherine Zepeda, I am a member of the Gila River Indian Community but grew up in the small town of Stanfield, AZ. I am a mother of three, two daughters Caidyn (16), Rhian (5) and one son Jonathan (11). I have been working for the community for 8+ years providing administration and advocacy support. I enjoy helping others in finding resources to make life just a little easier if I can. I am also an esthetician, however currently enrolled with Central Arizona College finishing up my Associates degree and have plans to transfer to U of A to receive my Bachelors in Psychology. I am excited to be a part of the K-12 Advising Team. I look forward in helping our children believe in themselves and supporting them through their educational journey.  

Phone: 480-224-3700


Gene Manuel

Grades 9-12

I am Gene Manuel.  I’m from the Gila River Indian Community from District 3, Sacaton.  I have worked for GRIC Tribal Education for 14 years as a Johnson O’Malley and now K12 Advisor.  Previously, I was a certified teacher and worked for Sacaton Public Schools and then Blackwater Community School.  I currently reside in Sacaton, AZ.

Phone: 520-610-9082

Lynette Hinojos

Grades 9-12

My name is Lynette Q. Hinojos. I was born in Florence, Az., but a lifetime resident of Coolidge Az. My wonderful parents are the late Yolanda Hinojos and the late Raymond Hinojos.  I have one amazing daughter.

I went to school and graduated from the Coolidge High school. After high school I went on to college. During going to college I worked at the Coolidge Public Library for 10 years.

 I was interviewed for the student advisor position and was able to get the job. So here I am and I absolutely love it. I currently work at the Vista Grande High School and Casa Grande Union High School with 9- 12 graders.  I have already gained a lot of AWESOME rapports with students and families. I just love that feeling of helping them and keeping them encouraged. I look forward to working with the students and getting them ready to graduate.

Phone: 520-610-8539


Jerry Curley

Grades 11-12

My name is Jerry Curley.  I started working with Gila River Indian Community in October of 2014.  After 32 years in Education, I retired in 2013 from Tucson Unified School District.  I received my B.S. and M.A. degrees in Education from Northern Arizona University.  I am a member of the Navajo Nation.  I enjoy reading and collecting books.  My collection mostly consists of Native American literature, but do have other favorite authors in my collection.  My personal goal is to instill in each student a desire to do their best in school, inspire them to continue their education beyond high school, and become a better person in the process. 

Phone: 520-610-1260


Linda Nyoro

Grades 9-12

Hi, my name is Linda Nyoro, I am Navajo, and married with two children. My Husband is currently a coach at Casa Grande High School.  My children both have left the nest and currently living on their own.  My son graduated from ASU and my daughter graduated from Columbia in New York.  She is planning to go back in the spring to finish her master’s.  

I have been with the Sacaton Head Start for close to 9 years, and have been with two other Head Start agencies.  NACOG from up north and the Pinal Gila Head Start here in Coolidge. I have been a home base teacher for Pinal Gila for 5 years. I have been a Head Start teacher for over 20 years.

I have now joined the K-12 Advisor with the Gila River Indian Community and will be station at the Vista Grande High School, and also be at the Casa Grande Union High school.  I look forward to meeting and encouraging our high school students with their educational and other activities.  

Over the years I have seen children start with their education at 3, 4 and 5 years old and now I get to see them at their high school level on what their future goals will be.  How exciting to be on this end.

Phone: 520-836-8500

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