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: District 204 School Board 2015-2017
Previous community experience: District 102 Delegate Assembly Treasurer, District 102 Strategic Planning Council, Pre-School Advisory Board First Congregational Church of LaGrange, Sunday School Teacher First United Methodist Church of LaGrange, Girls Intramural Volleyball & Basketball Coach, District 204 School Board Member
Occupation: Marketing/Community Relations, FNBC Bank & Trust LaGrange
Education: BA Early Childhood Education, National Louis University
What is the long-term financial outlook of the school district? Will there be a need to seek new revenues via a referendum, and would you support seeking such a referendum?
We are fortunate that past district 204 school boards and administrators have been prudent stewards of our resources, which allows us now, in more uncertain times, to remain financially sound. School boards have the ability to control some factors: capital improvements, programming costs, and salary increases. But there are issues that are being discussed at the state level that the board would not have the ability to control: a shift in school pension funding, a possible tax freeze and a change in state school funding. Any of these changes would have a significant impact on the financial outlook. In spite of this uncertainty, if we continue to maintain a careful balanced approach, I do not believe that our district will need to seek a referendum.
Are there programs or areas of the curriculum on which LTHS needs to focus more attention or less attention? How would you rate the education being provided to students of all abilities at LTHS?
The motto at LT is Vita Plena, “Quest for a Fulfilling Life.” LT does an outstanding job of teaching core subject matter, but they also understand that educating young minds means exposing students to knew ideas, situations and people. They offer comprehensive high level elective courses that allow access and exposure to potential career choices; culinary arts, teaching internships, private pilot licensure, and TV and radio production to name a few. LT also has over 130 diverse extracurricular clubs, service organizations, athletics, performing arts, and community activities. From Model UN to Auto Club, Tech Club to Sci-Fi Club, and STEM to Rock Climbing. There is even a course in the design and use of un-manned drones being developed. LT strives not just to educate our students academically, but also to help them develop interests, build relationships, and spark passions. Vita Plena.
LTHS is a diverse place, and test scores show there’s an achievement gap between white students and students of color. What is LTHS doing to address those achievement gaps? What more can be done?
The Board is committed to trying to understand what barriers hold any of our students back from achieving their full potential. The Equity and Achievement Program, is an initiative based on current research that was developed at LT three years ago in an effort to close the achievement gap and raise expectations for socio-economically disadvantaged students. Currently there are 44 freshmen and 42 sophomores participating. We will continue to expand this very successful program with each incoming class. Another program recently established was designed to help students who are English learners transition from junior high school to LT. We will continue to work with Outreach Coordinators, administrators and counselors to develop new initiatives to work towards raising achievement for all.
Explain your views on the relative advantage of assessments and using them to measure proficiency or growth.
Assessment data can be a powerful tool for seeing trends, potential problems and highlighting improvements. It can provide feedback for both students and administrators that can inform decision-making. The caution is, of course, to avoid over-assessing and the careful interpretation of the data collected. In my experience assessing growth rather than proficiency is a better gauge of individual and group development.
How does LTHS integrate technology into its curriculum? How is it working? Do you feel there other ways technology can be integrated into the curriculum?
Two years ago, LT began to roll out Canvas, a learning management system, which has become the driver in integrating technology into all aspects of the curriculum. Canvas has proven to be easy to use by both students and faculty and has enhanced student learning. It’s web-based, and can be accessed at school, home and even on their phones. It gives the students the ability to interact, be assessed, and received immediate teacher feedback. It also allows the faculty to collaborate between departments and campuses. In the future LT will need to look at expanding its network capability so that students will have access to Canvas through LT’s network. This will allow for greater reliability and access. The district will also need to continue to invest in teacher training to ensure that how we are utilizing Canvas engaging and enriches learning opportunities. Currently the Technology Department is developing a 5-year plan so that district will be prepared to meet the growing IT demands of the future.
What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
The quality of student life is an important issue for me. Our school climate survey results show that students are reporting increased levels of stress and school related anxiety. High school is a time of intense intellectual, emotional, social and physical growth. It is a time when students must learn how to balance workload, manage stress and navigate relationships. We need to allow our kids the opportunity to succeed and fail, pursue new interests, and explore life as high school students. The four years at LT must be more than merely college or career preparation. As a board member, I would like to continue to collaborate with our professional staff to insure we are doing all we can to help pursue excellence within developmentally appropriate guidelines. I want our students to get an outstanding education, but I also want them to enjoy the once in a lifetime experience of being a high school student.