Nicole Thompson

District 90 School Board Candidate

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Biography

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Candidates submitted their own biographies

My husband and I moved our family to River Forest in 2008 for the excellent school system. We have four children who have attended Lincoln Elementary School and Roosevelt Middle School in District 90. Our two children who have graduated out of the district are in their senior and sophomore years in high school. Our other two children are in the sixth and eighth grades at Roosevelt Middle School.

I am an academic physician. I practice general anesthesiology and pediatric anesthesiology, providing perioperative care for adults and children. In addition to my clinical work, I teach, mentor, and serve as a career advisor for medical students and resident physicians. I also serve on the medical staff executive board for my hospital system as the secretary/treasurer. Over my lifetime I have held many servant-leadership positions where I have been effective in achieving collective goals and advocating for constituents.

Background

Bachelor of Science in Biology – Xavier University of Louisiana

Doctor of Medicine – Loyola University – Stritch School of Medicine

Anesthesiology Residency – Rush University Medical Center

Pediatric Anesthesiology Fellowship – University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System

Scholars for Teaching Excellence Faculty Fellowship – University of Illinois College of Medicine

I am committed to governance that puts children at the forefront. I have consistently contributed to the River Forest community through service in an effort to support District 90’s Mission – “Inspire and empower all learners to achieve their personal best.” I strive to bring compassion into every difficult situation and will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure continued success for our district. 

I have volunteered in District 90 since my first child began school in 2008. My volunteer activities have included being a room parent for ten years often for multiple classes at the same time, photo parent, field trip volunteer, art appreciation volunteer, fun lunch volunteer, ice cream social volunteer, family math night organizer, and Board of Education member. In all my roles, I have endeavored to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion by being welcoming to parents, sharing information, and encouraging involvement. These activities have contributed to the rich learning environment of our children.

School Board Committee Participation

Finance Committee

Education Committee

Strategic Planning Committee 2020-2025

Safety and Operations Action Team (SOAT)

Covid-19 Advisory Panel Recommendations for Return to School

Through my work on the board, I have advanced educational equity by working on District 90’s Strategic Planning Committee, supporting the work of the National Equity Project within the District, and supporting diverse hiring practices. As a member of the Education Committee, I have advocated for the use of student voice and choice and supported Universal Design for Learning to ensure a sense of educational ownership by the students. I would like to continue my work on the Board to help the District recover from the collective trauma caused by Covid-19 and to achieve District 90’s vision.

Questionnaire

Describe how your background and experiences will bring value to the District 90 school board.

I was fortunate to be educated in a public school system that ignited my love for learning. That desire for learning had been a constant factor in my growth and development as a child and continues to fuel my ambitions as an adult. I am motivated to seek re-election to continue to serve the District 90 community by advocating for our mission and vision so all children can experience a love for learning. The skills that I bring include my consistent, compassionate, collaborative, and dedicated service to the District. My perspectives are shaped by my experiences as a wife, mother, physician, mentor, medical educator, career advisor, community member, and incumbent board member. These contributions will be valuable to District 90 as they will help inform how we support a love of learning for all children. 

What motivated you to run for a position on the District 90 board of education?

All children deserve a quality education that allows them to reach their full potential. I want to continue serving District 90 by continuing processes and policies that keep students at the forefront by encouraging an innovative learning environment that fosters growth. I am motivated to run for re-election because I care about the educational experience of children. I understand the importance of setting high instructional standards that feed curiosity, support critical thinking, and assist children in developing a lifetime love of learning.

Equity has been a focus of District 90, with both the Inclusiveness Advisory Board and the Equity Committee addressing different aspects of equity relating to public schools in River Forest. How effective do you think these groups have been? What are the most important areas that need to be addressed by the district moving forward?

District 90’s work with the National Equity Project has been instrumental in elevating the sense of belonging that students, staff, and parents experience. This work was appropriately supported by the board. The gains that were made before this year will serve us well as we continue to address issues of systemic racism that have received national attention. The Inclusiveness Advisory Board has been successful in identifying issues of diversity and inclusiveness within the district. Simultaneously the Equity Committee evaluated educational equity as it related to student growth. Based on the work of these committees, the district has areas that require attention. We have seen how inequitable practices influence and inhabit myriad spaces. District 90’s vision for equity is clearly articulated: “To ensure that every student feels empowered to achieve to his or her full potential, we commit to provide equitable opportunities for all learners, grow an inclusive school community, and demonstrate we value diversity.” In collaboration with the National Equity Project our district has obtained tools to further this vision. I am excited to continue this work to create a truly diverse inclusive community that creates critical thinkers that are prepared to contribute to the global community.

What do you see as the biggest challenges currently facing District 90? 

This past year has been traumatic for our students, parents, and community as a whole because of the COVID19 pandemic. One pressing issue will be navigating our collective recovery while continuing best practices around safety and social-emotional well-being. This will be addressed by increasing social support and encouraging student, teacher, parent, and community voices to help guide this recovery. Another issue is that we must continue to examine ways to improve equity by refining resource allocation to support students in their academic growth. Finally, the idea of establishing a full-day kindergarten option has been an ongoing community concern. We will actively examine options that could benefit our community. 

I would prioritize trauma recovery in order to improve the health of our students, staff, and parents. The newly formed Social Emotional Advisory Panel will lead the charge on this initiative. I would then address equity in education and explore a full-day kindergarten option in partnership with our administrative team and community stakeholders. Much of the work regarding equity has been addressed by the Inclusive Advisory Board and the Board of Education’s Equity Committee. This work should continue.

In your assessment, how effective do you feel District 90’s response was to the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Our district was proactive in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Safety and Operations Action Team (SOAT) was formed to establish best practices in an effort to mitigate risk in our schools. In addition, the Covid-19 Advisory Panel Recommendations for Return to School was formed to establish guidelines to safely bring students back to in-person learning. Our district has been extremely successful at mitigating risk. Other schools in our area have been identified by the Illinois Department of Public Health as schools with potential in-school COVID-19 exposures. District 90 has prioritized student, teacher, and staff safety during this pandemic while pivoting to a new educational platform.

What do you see as the most urgent concerns in terms of student achievement in District 90?

I currently chaired the District 90 Education Committee which expanded the use of formative student assessments and adopted the use of Standard Based Grading. Formative assessments have been used to direct education delivery in real-time and enhance student learning. Standards Based Grading has been used to more accurately evaluate learning and mastery of skills. Our district has always worked to enhance our student’s educational experience to improve growth. We consistently work on growth and achievement which has been evident in our student’s formative and summative assessments. Based on the Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University, the district’s test scores are three grade levels above the U.S. average and our MAP scores during Covid shows continued growth. Our goal as a district is to continue the rigorous educational offerings we currently provide, expand access to these offerings using Universal Design for Learning, and to make adjustments based on evidence based educational research to improve student growth.


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