Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.

Previous political experience: None

Previous community experience:

  • At Brook Park School: Girl Scouts: Troop leader and School Organizer and Coordinator Market Day Chair Volunteering in the classroom at various events. 
  • At St. Louis de Marillac: Religious Education teacher for 4th and 5th grade BEDS program laundry and food assistance 

Education: B.A. (Biochemistry), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 1985 Ph.D., (Pharmacology/Neuroscience), Wake Forest University, Winston-­%u2010Salem, NC 1989

Overall: I could not find any information on what the five and ten year plans are for the District. I have been attending board meetings to try to learn some of this information, but I have not been able to clearly establish the current trend or direction for the plans. In my work experience, we use our five and ten year plans as living documents to guide our decisions. We re-evaluate our five-year plan after 2 or 3 years and then the 10 year plan is adjusted to become the five year plan while a new long-term plan is created. We find this process reminds us of what we thought was important and gives us the opportunity to make changes as new information is added.

What should the district do to improve access to technology for students?

The current trend for District 95 appears to be playing catch up to the latest technology. Solid five/ten year plans should include upgrading the current technology to the standard for K-8 education, followed by a continual assessment to ensure that the systems evolve with the technology, rather than lagging behind.

As part of the plan, we need to assess why there is limited access to technology. As of now classrooms do not have sufficient computers to supply the needs of the students and teachers. One way to address this may be to create technology centers in each of the classrooms, consisting of 5-10 devices, which can be used to enhance the curriculum. Once we have adequate school supplies, then the importance of access to computers during off campus hours needs to be addressed. Does the community provide sufficient access to technology through the libraries? What funds/grants are available to supplement low-income families with the necessary hardware and network access? Can computer-recycling programs be utilized to provide lower income families with computers?

After the initial investment of money to upgrade and hire staff to be able to implement, train, and follow through on the proper use of the systems, the maintenance phase should be more easily managed. It will also be less stressful on the budget process, since it will be a fixed, fairly constant replacement cost.

What are your thoughts on implementing a K through 8 foreign language program in District 95?

While it is beneficial to learn a second language at a young age, implementing this type of a program is not free. I am under the impression that Spanish is already taught as an elective at SE Gross and that there is a summer school program at Brook Park for those interested in learning Spanish. Are these programs consistently filled to a maximum? If other areas of curriculum have been satisfied in the long term plans of the schools and there is money available to provide for the extra teaching time that will be needed, then a more intensive foreign language program can be incorporated. In the mean time, there are cultural days in which the children are exposed to other countries and traditions. This time can be used to start to address introduction of foreign languages.

How should District 95 address and fund its ongoing infrastructure needs?

A five/ten year plan needs to be created and an assessment of our current infrastructure to address the differences between what we have and what we need. Funding in the state of IL appears to be based on equity grants and bond issues. One thing that could be investigated is using a grant specialist. A consultant with experience in obtaining outside sources of funding could be beneficial to the district.

What would you like to see in the next teachers’ contract? What would you change, if anything?

I have reviewed the current contract and it appears to satisfy the basic tenets. While it appears that there are sufficient salary incentives for the teachers to incorporate changes in their classroom, I think there needs to be more time, training, and financial support of teachers as they are incorporating the new core curriculum and centers into their classroom. Teachers need the time to rearrange classroom configurations and flow, as well as their own teaching styles to support student-centered learning and the development of logical thought processes as students move between individual and team projects. Additionally I think the amount of planning time needs to be assessed to keep it in line with the expectations for the incorporation of the new common core.

What are your thoughts on District 95 possibly changing its grade-reporting system to one that’s standards-based?

I think that we are already using a standards-based reporting for our MAP testing. My concern is the parents taking the time and understanding the report as a report card. It is conceivable that the parents will not be clear on when their child is in danger of not passing the standards for promotion to the next grade. So while I think this is a good idea, I think that it will take a lot of training on the part of the administration and teachers to ensure that it is being used and presented properly, since many parents will not fully understand what it means.

What other important issues do you think the next school board will face, and how would you like to see those addressed?

Some of my major concerns for the district include the continual growth in number of the students, the aging of the buildings, and proper communication. Our district keeps growing and the teachers’ budget for the extra students in the classroom might not be keeping pace with the increased need for supplies and other resources. In addition, our room sizes are filled to capacity and testing and other learning needs to take place in the hallway or other areas.

While this is not always a bad thing, it can be. Also, we need to ensure that there are additional resources for any increase in special needs of the students. This could include space, teachers, and/or other supplies for teaching techniques that enhance the learning process. As for addressing these, we need to maintain clear communication between the teachers, administrators, and board members. As a board member, I see my job as working with the teachers to provide an enriched environment for the students.