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.
Name: Tiziana Lambert
Previous Political Experience: None
Previous/Current Community Involvement: Current D102 board member; D102 CEMA Committee member; Cossitt PTC involvement
Education: Bachelor’s degree in recreation, park and tourism, Western Illinois University; master’s degree in special education, University of Illinois at Chicago; master’s degree in reading, Concordia 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?
Serving as a D102 board member is a way to contribute my knowledge and experience as a parent in the district and as an educator. Over the last eight years, I’ve seen positive change happen within the district as a whole, and being an active participant in a governing group that brings about continuous change fuels my passion for education. Being part of the D102 school board is a great way to work with a team of experts who share a vision to improve all students’ academic and social/emotional achievement.
For the past 23 years, I have dedicated my professional career to education. My expertise as a practicing educator brings a valuable perspective as a board member. Educational equality and accessibility are my top priorities; my extensive work with diverse learners, in addition to being a parent, has provided a broader perspective on education. I know the importance of teamwork to ensure voices are heard respectfully, and being a parent in the district for the past eight years has provided many experiences related to academics and school climate.
Additionally, the most valuable experience is having the privilege of serving on the D102 school board since 2021. As a current D102 board member, I see the importance of collaborating with the community and district administrators to ensure that the needs of students, faculty, and staff are considered. This experience has allowed for authentic and valuable first-hand experience on how our school board governs La Grange D102. During this year and a half, I’ve been tasked with making decisions that directly affect the district and all its stakeholders. I’ve learned to review school policies, listen and ask questions objectively, and respectfully have conversations with school administrators regarding concerns. In this short time, I believe I have been an effective voice for our community and would be honored to have the opportunity to continue learning and growing as a board member on behalf of La Grange D102.
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?
District 102 is a leading school regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion, and I’m extremely proud of the work all District 102 stakeholders have put forth to ensure all students feel a sense of belonging in our school district. From 2019-2021, I had the pleasure of being part of District 102’s Committee of Equity and Minority Achievement (CEMA) as a parent. During my time on the committee, I participated in a subgroup that focused on the underrepresentation of students of color in accelerated classes and the overrepresentation of students of color in the multi-tiered system of support. Through this subcommittee, the need for change was determined, and initiatives were created to address underrepresented students. The CEMA committee also created the current equity policy that ensures the district follows a set of guidelines. In addition to CEMA, the district is committed to creating a culture that focuses on equity by providing staff with quality professional development and equity-centered practices that align with the Social Justice Standards for Teaching Tolerance.
Additionally, the district’s efforts to promote inclusivity have resulted in more students with disabilities being included in the general education classroom. With every successful organization, there is always room for growth, and DEI should always be a priority. The district is challenged to continue to ensure that all students are meeting or exceeding expectations and continue to feel a sense of belonging in every aspect of their school experience. The efforts put forth towards DEI are continuous.
3. In recent years, District 102 implemented a standards-based grading system. What are your views of the change? Is there anything else that needs to be done, and if so, what?
The switch to standards-based grading has allowed for a more tailored instructional approach that enables teachers and students to understand specific areas of mastery and areas of deficit. As a parent and educator, I believe that standards-based grading is an effective method to demonstrate student growth and mastery of skills. The change from traditional grading to standards-based grading has resulted in more consistent and objective ways to measure student progress and to ensure that all students are held to a high standard. Moving away from a point-based system has encouraged students to focus on learning and not just gaining points. The ability to make mistakes without risks and continue to practice these skills till mastery creates perseverance and promotes a growth mindset. Standards-based grading also supports the multi-tiered system of support framework. The process of targeting specific skills guides teachers to identify struggling students and address their learning deficits immediately. As a parent, I’ve experienced the benefits of this process first-hand and attribute my children’s growth to this process. Since this grading system depends largely on rubrics and other scoring guides, I believe specific, targeted feedback that clearly communicates where students are at and what they need to do to reach their full potential is essential.
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?
The addition of new board members, along with the new superintendent, will create an environment for new policy initiatives. I look forward to the opportunity to contribute to those initiatives which further improve the educational environment for all students in the district. Together with the superintendent, the D102 school board should review policies regularly to ensure that these policies are in compliance with state and federal regulations and are relevant to the district. Many school policies are important for the success and well-being of students. Continuing to pursue policies that prohibit discrimination and create a safe and inclusive environment is essential. The D102 school board needs to ensure that things are done with fidelity and that processes are put in place to monitor implementation and success.
5. What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing District 102, and how should the school board address them?
I feel fortunate to be a part of a high-performing, student-centered school district that is grounded in its strategic plan and has a solid foundation in equity work. Although the district has many wonderful initiatives, there is always room for growth. As evident by both state and district data, D102 continues to be challenged with closing the achievement gap. Guided by the strategic plan, the D102 school board ensures accountability by reviewing data and asking questions regarding initiatives that target this challenge. Additionally, with six schools and three different communities, communication can vary greatly. Having a unified communication plan that includes all stakeholders is essential for maintaining transparency. Furthermore, collecting and reviewing data is an ongoing challenge that forces the district to evaluate effective programming and determine its efficacy in achieving student growth. A critical responsibility of the D102 School Board is to approve curricula that will be implemented across all schools.