Below are candidate-submitted answers to a survey Wednesday Journal sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
Profession: I am currently the Director/ Founder of The Learning League, a community education program. I was a classroom teacher for 15 years; five years overseas in Quito, Ecuador, five years in the West Englewood neighborhood of Chicago and four years at District 97; three years at Longfellow and one year at Mann. I have my Masters in Education from National Louis through a program called AUSL, Academy of Urban School Leadership, a program that mentors and fosters teacher leaders in high need schools in Chicago.
Years lived in River Forest: More than seven years in Oak Park
Do you have children in D97 schools? How many and what ages?:
- One son, grade 6, age 12, Julian Middle School
Have you ever run for or served in a local political office before? If so, when and which office? No
If you are not currently on the school board, how many school board meetings have you attended in the last year? I attended a few meetings this year and I am not currently on the board.
Why are you running for this office?
My unique and diverse experience teaching in Ecuador, Chicago Public Schools, and Oak Park, building a tutoring business that serves hundreds of Oak Park families who seek to fill educational gaps, and being a parent of an Oak Park student all combine to give me a rich perspective that I feel can be of great service to the community. I feel I understand the needs of students, teachers and parents from working closely with all of these stakeholders and can be a leader in communicating and responding to these needs.
What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing the district in the next four years?
- Roll out of the new teacher contract;
- Structuring and implementing a cohesive curriculum based on Common Core Standards across the district; and
- Clear communication to all stakeholders, particularly as district is expecting high enrollment in the next few years.
What skills/talents do you have that would enable you to deal with those challenges?
I have a very unique perspective on District 97. Not only was I a teacher for four years in this district, I am an involved Oak Park parent and I am now the director of an education company that services children from Kindergarten to 8th grade. My company has worked with more than 100 families from all District 97 schools as well as Oak Park Private Schools and schools in the surrounding neighborhoods. Through my work, I have developed lessons in the Common Core standards, worked on curriculum development and implementation, and know firsthand the e importance of a cohesive curriculum throughout grade levels and the district.
As an educator for more than 18 years, I appreciate the teachers’ perspective. I am very familiar with the expectations and needs of the learner and educator in the classroom. Thus I am aware of the impact that top-down decision making has on the classroom environment. I appreciate and understand the needs of students, parents and teachers. I will listen to, collaborate with and provide feedback to solve problems, working closely with teachers and their support systems.
If elected, what are three goals that you have for the next four years?
- Provide structure/guidance to the discrepancies between schools in the district including the gap between elementary and middle schools
- Facilitate effective communication from the board to families and teachers
- Work towards a strategic implementation of the process for achieving set goals when rolling out initiatives. This process would include, but would not be limited to, giving ample time for teacher training and student adjustment.