By Bob Skolnik
A 36-year-old elementary school art teacher has been appointed to serve on the Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 Board of Education.
Kyle Wood, who has lived in Brookfield for just over 10 years, was chosen by the school board to fill out the remaining year of the term of Michelle Maggos, who resigned from the board in April after serving on the board for seven years, including more than three years as board president.
While the school board voted unanimously to appoint Wood at its June 11 meeting, the board was initially deadlocked between Wood and another applicant for the position, Phyllis Kastle, who is the president of the of the Brook Park Council, a parent organization at Brook Park School.
In addition to Wood and Kastle, Elizabeth Loerop also applied to fill the vacancy.
All three applicants filled out a questionnaire and were interviewed by the school board on May 28 during a special meeting. After the interviews the board took a straw poll and were spilt 3-3 between Wood and Kastle.
Board president Scott Encher, Barb Garvey and Meaghan McAteer favored Wood, while Jacqueline Jordan, Katie Mulcrone and Rebecca Zoltoski favored Kastle. After further discussion and debate, Zoltoski flipped and decided to back Wood.
McAteer said she liked that Wood is a teacher, like Maggos before him
"I think it's important to have an educator on the school board and Barb Garvey [a teacher in River Forest] is likely not going to run again," McAteer said.
McAteer said she also liked Wood's openness, thought he had good ideas and was impressed that Wood, unlike the other two applicants, had previously attended a District 95 school board meeting. And she liked that Wood was a man.
"Quite frankly I think gender diversity is important, and right now we have a board with all women and one man, and I think it's important to have the voice of a father with a child in the district," McAteer said.
Wood is the father of a 5-year-old son who will start kindergarten in the fall and of a 2-year-old daughter. His son getting ready to start school is what prompted his desire to serve on the school board.
"You kind of got skin in the game; you want to see that it's going to be the best possible outcomes for your kids and the other students," Wood told the Landmark. "From the perspective of a resident my property values is tied, in large part, do how good our school district is."
Wood, who teaches art at Highlands Elementary School in Naperville, also said that he viewed serving on the school board as an opportunity for professional growth.
"I'm used to being in the classroom. It gives me another view of the school system," said Wood, who has been a teacher for 13 years.
Wood said his perspective as a teacher will be helpful on the school board.
"One of my primary goals in serving on the school board is to bring my classroom experience to the table, so we can consider the real-world implications of broad policies, mindful of the individual students behind the statistics," Wood said.
Wood has established Twitter and Instagram accounts, @KyleWoodSD95, so people can follow his work on the school board.
Wood grew up in Wheaton. He earned his bachelor's degree from the School of the Art Institute and earned a master's degree from Kaplan University.
Director of student services hired
At its May meeting the school board voted to hire a new director of student services, selecting Dean Pappas to replace Nora Skentzos, who is leaving District 95 after four years to take a director position at Will County School District 92, closer to her home in the far southwest suburbs.
For the past year Pappas has been the director of student services at Skokie School District 73.5. Prior to that Pappas served for one year as the coordinator of special education services for Orland School District 135 after a four-year stint as a school psychologist there.
Pappas was chosen from a field of more than 50 applicants.
"We were very fortunate that we had two really strong finalists," Kuzniewski said. "I think what stood out behind Dean is that we thought he would be a really good fit with the rest our administrative team."
Pappas, who will be paid $95,000 a year, earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from Eastern Illinois University in 2011. He earned his certification as a school psychologist from EIU in 2014, and in 2018 he earned his certification as a school administrator from National-Louis University.
He begins work at District 95 on July 1.