Age: 45

Profession: Assistant Principal for Instruction 

Years in River Forest:  12 

Are you a District 90 graduate?  No, District 97 and 200. 

Do you have children who have, are or will be attending District 90 schools? What are their ages?  

I have three children:  11 year old in 6th grade at Roosevelt, 9 year old in 3rd grade at Lincoln and a 4 year old who will attend kindergarten next year.

 Have you ever run for or served in a local political office before? If so, when and which office? No

Why did you decide to run for the school board? What talents and skills would you bring to bear to improve the system? What do you see as the role of a school board member? Do you think that the Caucus system is an appropriate way to select school board candidates? 

I am running for office because I have a passion for our community, our students and our schools.  My wife and I tell our children that the purpose of education is for you to reach your potential, experience all you can out of life and to give back all you can to make this a better world for others to live in.  I believe my education has given me all that I could possibly want out of life and this is an opportunity to volunteer my time and experience toward school improvement in my community.

The major function of the Board of Education is to envision the best education possible for our children and to assure that there is a clear articulation of plans to meet this vision.  This vision should be formulated by educated and informed board members using the interest of all stakeholders and supported by the best available research.

In order to assure that the best candidates are selected, the River Forest Community Caucus was established to vet and endorse qualified candidates.  I believe that the caucus system is an appropriate way to select board candidates.  The members of this year’s caucus represented diverse opinions and represented different stakeholder positions in the community. I believe this gives the group the ability to make a well-rounded endorsement, and not an endorsement of an individual based on their position on an individual issue.

I have 20 years of experience in public education that will allow me to contribute practical and visionary insight as the District 90 Board of Education continues to work toward school improvement.  As a secondary educator I have taught all levels of history including advanced placement courses.  As a department chairperson for social science I was able to lead my department toward more student centered and rigorous curriculum and instruction.  As an assistant principal of instruction, I work with roughly175 incredible faculty who demonstrate their devotion to students each day.  I have practical experience in: curriculum articulation, best practice in pedagogy, teacher professional development, instructional technology, teacher hiring and evaluation, departmental budgets, student activities, formative and summative assessments, special education, school safety, Response to Intervention, developmental guidance, Common Core State Standards and the new PARCC assessment.  With this I am also pursuing a doctorate from Concordia University in Teacher Leadership which requires that I stay current in terms of education research.  This experience has honed my skill in making evidence and research-based decisions.

As a parent of three children who will all attend District 90 schools, my children, my wife and I are experiencing first hand all of the great resources, professionals and learning activities that District 90 has to offer.  We also are experiencing all of the changes that are occurring in education first hand such as the adoption of the Common Core, increased use of instructional technology and the PARCC assessment to name a few.  This experience, as a current parent of students in District 90 schools, lends insight that will help me make the right decisions for all stakeholders in the community.  As a parent, an educator and as a doctoral student, I have the experience that matters and the passion to help make an excellent school district even more effective. 

What are your views about the Roosevelt Exterior project? Do you support it or are against it and why? What would you do to improve it? If a lawsuit were filed over this, as a school board member, how would you respond to it? Would you support it or remain neutral? Be specific and be constructive.

The Roosevelt Exterior project has caused many community members to become involved and voice strong opinions as to how District 90’s land should be used.  Recently the Village Board of Trustees voted to approve the recommendations of the Development Review Board, which amended the School Board’s plan to a 30-space dual use north parking lot, 10 of the spaces to be given to the library for its patrons.  My view of the Roosevelt Exterior Project is one that views the enhancement of facilities toward greater safety for all, improved instructional space for students and flood abatement as all advantageous to the educational process.  However, to be constructive here I would need to know what the parameters and the purpose of a “lawsuit” would entail before “supporting” it.  As in all decisions, I would seek more information to make informed decisions about a course of action that best suits our community and District 90.  In the end, I don’t believe any member could remain neutral on the issue as they would have to either support or oppose implementing the recommended plans the Development Review Board. 

What is your understanding of Common Core?  What would you do to continue integrating into the system? Do you think it is a good vehicle to educate children? Do you feel the district should continue it? If yes, why? If no, why? Be specific.

The Common Core State Standards are a set of learning standards adopted by many states including Illinois.  The standards are grade specific and rigorous and all districts will “continue it” because it is a state mandate that they do so.  While one could argue about specific learning standards in the Common Core, I believe that as a whole, they are an excellent road map for learning and not necessarily “the vehicle.” The “vehicle[s]” for student attainment of these standards are the professionals who articulate and teach the standards and the resources available to students, parents and teachers who a charged with educating our children.  As a board member I would assure that our professionals are given the resources to skillfully articulate the district curriculum and assure that the curriculum is aligned with these standards.

The district is becoming more diverse. How would you make students – and parents – feel more welcome in their schools? 

The many different professionals and spaces in District 90 have been welcoming to myself and to other parents.  Yet, all school districts must actively seek to become more effective in terms of community outreach and parental involvement.  This can be accomplished through more effective communication, easy access to teachers and administrators, and a clear understanding that a visit to your child’s school can only benefit the child and increase parental understanding of how the school and the home can work together to improve our students’ educational experience. In order to further accomplish this goal, the district has established an Inclusiveness Advisory Board.  I would continue to seek out its members’ advice and take steps to make the classroom, the hallways and our playgrounds a place where all children feel at home.   This is best accomplished when people, old and young work collaboratively to build something that matters.  Having students work together, on relevant, engaging and challenging tasks, in the classroom and in extra-curricular contexts, bring people together in this way.  Furthermore, making students feel welcome and at home is part and parcel of the District’s vision in educating the “whole child.”  This is at the core of the mission for each and every District employee and public servant.  In my opinion, if you are not working honestly and creatively toward this end, every moment of the school day, perhaps you have chosen the wrong profession. 

Test scores are showing that children of color, particularly African-Americans, are not doing as well on standardized tests as their white counterparts. How can you insure that students receive an equal education? What would you do? Be specific.

An achievement gap between whites and minorities in any school district is unacceptable. I believe there are steps we can take in order to assure that educational deficits based solely on a person’s socio-economic background are eradicated.  I will work toward this end by requiring that  instructional data to analyze where and how learning deficits exists in District 90. By utilizing data we can enable teachers to target where these deficits occur and to target instruction, resources and personnel, where all students make academic gains.

Would you revisit the idea of all-day kindergarten? Please explain your answer.

If the idea of all-day kindergarten were to become something the public found beneficial to our students and our community, I would revisit it.  As with any innovation or change in the curricular offerings of a school district, I would rely on evidence-based research to make a clear decision on why and how such a change or innovation was beneficial to the District 90 community.

The village is moving ahead to create tax increment finance districts on Madison and North Avenue. What is your understanding of TIFS, how they work and the impact on the schools. Would you back them? 

Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts basically direct the amount of annual yearly tax increases of an area toward a public fund used for the development of property within the boundaries of the TIF district.  River Forest has a need to develop certain areas for economic growth.  I have listened to many ideas on how this can be accomplished including the use of a TIF.  As a TIF may divert potential tax revenues from our schools, I would analyze closely the intent and proposed outcome of the TIF and weigh the potential success of these projects against the potential positive or negative effect on our schools.  Ultimately, these factors would have to be clearly articulated before “backing” or not backing a proposed TIF.

What is your understanding of the use of technology in the district? Should it be improved or expanded, and if so, what should it be doing? Would continue to support, or oppose, the use of technology and why. Be specific.

Anyone who “opposes” the “use of technology” has probably not taken a course in a while, be it 3rd grade, college or a course to keep their professional degree and certification current.  The goal of instructional technology is the same as that of an abacus, it an instructional tool used to increase student achievement and understanding.  Effective instructional technology allows for greater communication between the child’s experience in the classroom and the parents and guardians at home.   Teachers can utilize resources that were once not available and students are able to produce work in new creative, collaborative and analytical ways.

Yet, the adoption of new technology without support will never improve student achievement.  As an administrator currently working with175 faculty and nearly 3,500 students who are moving to a one-to-one environment, I understand the tremendous amount of planning, support and professional development that is required to assure the effective use of instructional technology.  I have seen how this technology has improved student learning not only as a professional but also as a District 90 parent.  There are many faculty in District 90 who are adept at its use and there are some who are still emerging in this area as the district has just completed a full roll out of one-to-one devices at Roosevelt Middle School.  I believe that my experience in the area of effective instructional technology will lend an insight to the Board of Education and will contribute toward informed decision making as it relates to what types of technology are further adopted and the amount and nature of professional development that we choose.  

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