We are writing to endorse District 97 school board candidates Kate Odom and Erin Connor. If your children are back in school, it is likely due in part to the advocacy work they have been leading since the summer. Kate and Erin worked tirelessly to advocate for students in D97 by articulating the challenges children and families faced with remote learning. They used regular, strategic communication with school board members, D97 leadership, and state Senator Don Harmon to share concerns and advocate for science-based return to school. They actively engaged with parents and community members to encourage greater participation in the return to in-person discussion and to improve accountability from D97 leadership.

Kate is a child psychologist. Now more than ever, mental health expertise is critical in decision-making for our schools. She has served schools in many vital roles, as a counselor as well as mediator, providing mediation for schools and families in legal disputes. She possesses a deep understanding of school policy, education law, and special education systems. Her experience uniquely positions her to understand how school systems function and how to problem-solve to promote the best student outcomes.

Erin is a proactive, action-oriented leader and effective problem-solver. She advocated for live-streaming teaching options in October to allow students to keep their current teachers when implementing a hybrid model. She will apply this tenacity and focus to creating solutions focusing on a return to full in-person learning in the fall. Erin is a community-focused collaborator, whether she is leading a team of managers or a troop of second-grade Girl Scouts. As a board member, we know she would have what it takes to improve collaboration among D97 stakeholders.

The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges that will require exceptional communication, problem-solving, and leadership in our schools for years to come. We are confident that Kate Odom and Erin Connor have these qualities and many more. It is our privilege to endorse them in their run for the D97 Board of Education.

Mara Maas, Cara Carmody, Kerri Joy, Margaret Nekrosius, Elizabeth Newhart Rachel Sobel, Oak Park

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