The Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Landmark’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.

Catherine Murphy | Provided

Name: Catherine Murphy

Age: 47

Previous Political Experience: None

Previous/Current Community Involvement: Parent liaison, Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; St. Francis Xavier Catholic Women’s Club Member, 2017-present, president, 2019-2021; 

Occupation: Advertising sales executive, The CyberWire

Education: B.B.A in MIS, Texas Tech University; M.S. in Project Management, George Washington University

1. Why are you running to be on the board of LaGrange-Brookfield School District? What motivates you and what experience and perspectives would you bring to the job? How would those be valuable as an elected official? 

I’m running to help improve the quality of education in the community and help make a positive impact for all students. Serving on the school board would allow me the chance to help shape the educational landscape of children in our community to best prepare them for a successful educational future.

In addition to my passion for fostering the education system for all children, I also want to help children who have challenges or need extra support. I want to help them have a voice in our community and receive equal opportunities by helping schools meet the needs of all students. 

I believe my diverse experience and background can be valuable as a school board member. My leadership and management experience taught me the importance of collaborating with others and overseeing projects, including timelines and budgets. In addition, my experience in community organizations demonstrated my commitment to projects and a cause and illustrated my ability to understand and prioritize the needs of others. 

I’ve also had years of experience in advocacy through my involvement with Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Texas Children’s Hospital of Austin, demonstrating a commitment to public service, utilizing my time and experiences to help others. 

Most importantly, my experience being a mom of two kids, one who’s had severe special needs, has taught me patience and the skills needed to effectively advocate for their needs. I also have a unique background of experience with both the public and private school system in our community. 

2. In recent years, District 102 has launched equity initiatives and made them an important part of its strategic plan. What, in your view, is the value of pursuing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives? Has District 102 started to achieve equitable outcomes for students? How can it do better? 

In my opinion, the value of pursuing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at schools has many benefits to the students, teachers, and our community. This promotes a more inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and respected. Studies have also shown that students who feel more valued and respected perform better at school academically. Socially, it can teach students to be more accepting of others regardless of their differences, leading them to be more compassionate of others. 

Based on the statement that D102 has launched these efforts, I believe it’s a great step in the right direction. However, I do feel there are always opportunities for improvement as there would be with any new initiatives, and I’m excited to be a part of this ongoing process. 

3. In recent years, District 102 implemented a standard-based grading system. What are your views of the change? Is there anything else that needs to be done and, if so, what?

As with any issue, I try to understand both sides of the situation and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages to create a non-biased opinion. I believe this system can be a very effective way to rate each student’s academic achievement and identify the areas in which he/she needs additional instruction, allowing schools to focus on learning rather than grades. I believe in order to be most effective, there must be feedback from the teachers and parents about areas students struggle with the most in order to have educators be able to adequately address the deficiencies in these areas. 

My concern with this system long-term as it relates to high school and college is the potential to inadequately prepare students for their educational success as it could present challenges with scholarship applications and admission processes with advanced education systems. There could also be a lack of motivation from students who thrive more on a standard grading system.

4. The newly elected school board members will start their terms in a time of transition, with Kyle Schumacher exiting as superintendent on June 30. Do you believe that this represents an opportunity to seek new policy initiatives and, if so, what would you support pursuing? What policies do you believe should be retained? 

This is a very exciting time for our schools with the transition of a new superintendent starting this year. I think while Kyle’s dedication has been admirable and his efforts appreciated, it’s important to view this as an opportunity to have a new viewpoint, different set of skills, and background to our community. I think the biggest focus should be on improving communication within our schools and families, including collaborating with the community. I think it’s also important to help foster a caring and inclusive school environment in which the needs of every child matter and are met. Lastly, I think the primary focus should always be ensuring student achievement. 

Beyond these efforts, I would welcome the opportunity to learn more about the Superintendent’s opinions about our policies, and what they feel should be the top priorities for the schools in our community and develop a system in which we could all collaboratively determine what policies are most/least effective. 

5. What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing District 102 and how should the school board address them?

The need to ensure that all students receive the highest-quality education possible, so they have the opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential. Some of these challenges can include meeting diverse students’ needs, recruiting and retention of quality educators, and providing a safe and healthy learning environment.