Bessie Boyd | Provided

Five of the six candidates running for four seats on the LaGrange-Brookfield School District 102 Board of Education in the April 4 election met during a Zoom candidate forum last week sponsored by the LaGrange area chapter of the League of Women Voters.

The candidates who participated included were incumbents Bessie Boyd, who came on halfway through the hour-long forum due to technical difficulties, and Tiziana Lambert, along with first time candidates Molly Knott, Catherine Murphy and Kathryn McQuiston. 

Tiziana Lambert | Provided

Theresa O’Sullivan did not participate in the forum. O’Sullivan also has not returned the Landmark’s candidate questionnaire.

The forum revealed few differences among the candidates, and all the candidates live in LaGrange except for Knott, who lives in Brookfield. District 102 serves the southwest quarter of Brookfield.

Knott teaches science in Berwyn Elementary School District 100, but she also taught fourth grade and talent development in District 102 for nine years, seven at Congress Park School in Brookfield and two at Cossitt School in LaGrange. 

Molly Knott | Provided

Knott, whose two daughters attended Congress Park School and Park Junior High and now attend Lyons Township High School, believes her perspective as both a former teacher in the district and as a parent would be valuable on the school board.

“I know that the schools in District 102 are remarkable places filled with most eager students and the most passionate staff,” Knott said. “As a board member, I want to challenge students and staff to think critically, feel empowered with knowledge and appreciate the diversity of thinking within our schools.”

In an interview with the Landmark a couple of months ago and at the forum, Knott said she believes the district is in a good place but can always improve.

Catherine Murphy | Provided

“I think that investing in teachers is really important, student growth and accountability as well and then I think there is a lot of work that can be done with equity in the district,” Knott told the Landmark.

Boyd, a retired elementary school principal, is running for her second term on the District 102 school board.

“I want voters to know that I will continue to be prepared for the board meetings, continue to ask the hard questions, continue to voice my concerns about what it best for students,” Boyd said.

Boyd, who attended Congress Park School as a child, said the district has some facility challenges ahead. She said that the district needs more classroom space as student enrollment increases. 

“There is a need, particularly right now at Barnsdale [School], because of the growth for early childhood, that we will need to look at other areas of building classrooms and making room for new students coming into the district,” Boyd said.

Kathryn McQuiston | Provided

Lambert, who was appointed to the school board in 2021, teaches reading to students with disabilities at Lyons Township High School. She said that she is excited to continue her work on the school board. Lambert, who was born in Italy and came to the United States as a 3-year-old, is passionate about inclusion. 

Prior to becoming a member of the school board, Lambert was a member of the District 102 Committee on Equity and Minority Achievement.

Lambert takes an expansive view of student achievement, as did the other candidates.

“As a reading specialist, of course, academics are a first priority for me, but I also feel that having students belong and feeling that sense of inclusion, and really looking at those in classroom assessments that teachers are providing is a measure of achievement,” Lambert said. “Teacher feedback is essential.”

Murphy, who has lived in LaGrange for almost 13 years and works as an advertising sales representative, is the mother of a sixth grader and a third grader with special needs. 

“I have firsthand experience and knowledge and opportunities that our schools face,” Murphy said.

Murphy says giving all children a sense of belonging and inclusion is vital. She said she sees the pain when her special-needs child is left out of an activity.

“It’s our responsibility as board members to ensure that all children can thrive, both socially and academically,” Murphy said.

McQuiston, a sales excellence manager and member of the LaGrange Community and Economic Development Commission, is the mother of a 3-year-old. She and her husband moved to LaGrange in 2016.

“I am motivated by my desire to make a difference and serve my community,” McQuiston said.

She said that she is collaborative and strategic and can work with various stakeholders.

“One of the things I’m passionate about is community engagement,” McQuiston said.

Unlike past years, the District 102 Delegate Assembly did not meet and endorse candidates, so all the candidates are running on their own.