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Getting to know you: Sandy Breece, founder and principal at Telesis

November 26, 2018

When Sandy Breece moved to Lake Havasu City in 1966, she was a teenager. The Herald newspaper’s headline on that April day declared that Havasu’s population hit 1,000.

“My dad said it was because we moved here, that the number became 1,000,” Breece laughed.

Her parents, Bill and Betty Blanchard, had taken a McCulloch land sales flight, bought a vacant lot and moved their family to Havasu from Missouri. Young Sandy rode a bus every day to attend high school in Kingman.

After high school graduation, she moved to Tempe and earned her bachlelor’s and master’s degrees from Arizona State University. She received her principal’s certification from Northern Arizona University. Her doctorate degree in educational leadership and superintendent’s certification were earned at Nova Southeastern University in Las Vegas.

Breece is the superintendent, principal and founder of the Telesis Center for Learning school district. The tuition-free charter school has 435 students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade. Telesis Preparatory is devoted to grades K-8; Telesis Preparatory Academy is for students 9-12.

She was a kindergarten and first grade teacher with the Lake Havasu Unified School District for 18 years before founding Telesis in 1991.

Family: Son Ryan Breece, daughter-in-law Tammy and grandson Austin. And her Yorkie, Gidget, who is reportedly a good listener.

Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri

What was your best surprise?

My son and his wife lived in San Diego. One day, they told me they were moving back to Havasu. I had no idea they were thinking about that. Shortly after, (grandson) Austin entered the world. That was a great surprise, too.

If you had a free weekend, what would you do with it? I’ve often said that I’d like to go away and then come back to Havasu as a tourist. I could enjoy the beach, go camping – I never get to do those things.

What’s your favorite way to unwind?

I go to the movies – often.

What’s your favorite movie?

“It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Where is your next vacation taking you?

Costa Rica. It’s with a bunch of kids. They are students of my friend from Wisconsin. I asked if I could tag along. This will be a return trip for me. That country is so beautiful. And so many animals! I was a zoology minor, so I love all kinds of animals.

What’s one goal you still hope to achieve? I want this school (Telesis) to succeed long after I’m gone.

What’s the best thing you’ve bought in the last six months? I got a new car. It’s a Chrysler 300 Sport.

What’s your most recent splurge?

I took the family – all five of us – on the Polar Express from Williams. Then we also went to the Grand Canyon by train.

If you could change lives with anyone for a day, who would you like to be? I’d like to be one of the Jim Henson puppeteers, when Jim Henson was in his heyday. It would have been extraordinarily creative and exciting, to be able to hold children’s attention like that.

If you weren’t in your present career, what would you like to be?

For a long, long time when I was young, I wanted to be physical therapist in a children’s hospital. I always knew I wanted to work with children.

What’s the craziest, most impulsive thing you’ve ever done that you can talk about? Opening Telesis. I planned for three years. We had nine students when we opened in August 1991, and one of them was my son. Many people told me I had lost my mind.

What song do you like to sing along to? ”Hey, Jude” by the Beatles.

What song makes you nostalgic? ”I Will” by the Beatles.

What’s something most people would be surprised to learn about you? I was the first student teacher in Arizona to do my student teaching away from the town where the campus was. I kept begging them to let me do it in Havasu. They finally gave in.

What was your worst job?

I worked at the Havasu Hotel when I was young. I was a waitress, and not a good one. I have great respect for all waitresses.

If you could go to dinner with anyone in the world, who would that be?

British author and TED Talk speaker Sir Ken Robinson.

What food can’t you live without? Chocolate. I am a chocoholic.

What are your treasures?

I have my great-aunt’s ring (she’s wearing it). I also have her charm bracelet. She was the wardrobe technician for Doris Day. There’s a charm for every movie they worked on together. Doris and my great-aunt, Marie Pickering, were very close. One time, when I was a teenager, I answered the phone at our house. The person wanted to talk to Marie. I went off to find her. It was Doris Day calling. I had no idea that I put Doris Day on hold.

What do you collect?

Birdhouses. I have about 200. And vintage dolls. I have about 150. They’re on the pot shelves in my house.

What’s your everyday accessory?

A smile.

What item do you buy in bulk?

Shaklee protein drinks. I buy it by the case.

What’s your coffee shop order?

Chai tea.

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