*EDITOR’S NOTE: Candidates submitted their own biographies
Born and raised in Philadelphia, I received my undergraduate degree in Marketing and Finance from Temple University and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for several years before moving to Ann Arbor for graduate school. After receiving my MBA from the University of Michigan in 1997, I moved to Chicago to start a career in the advertising industry. I had the opportunity to work in account management for Leo Burnett and DDB Worldwide, working with clients in varied industries including consumer packaged goods, retail and insurance. In 2006, I moved to River Forest with my husband, Mark, and two children, Mark and Gabrielle.
Since moving here, I have become very active in the community. While my kids were in school in District 90, I wore many hats in the PTO and had the pleasure of volunteering in both of their classrooms. I have been a D90 Board Member for the past five years and, relatedly, serve on a number of different committees in the district and in the community. Beyond my service in the district, I have had the opportunity to serve on the boards of the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation and Beyond Hunger, two amazing organizations in our community.
Describe how your background and experiences will bring value to the District 90 school board.
I have lived in River Forest since 2006. Both of my children went through District 90, attending Lincoln and Roosevelt. During their time in the schools, I was fortunate to be able to participate in a variety of activities — in their classrooms, in their schools and in the district overall, including serving on a number of committees including Strategic Planning, Equity and the Inclusiveness Advisory Board. As an incumbent, I bring five years of experience, which has taught me how to govern with patience, respect and collaboration.
What motivated you to run for a position on the District 90 board of education?
I am seeking re-election because I hope to continue the work we have started in District 90. Our mission is to “inspire and empower all learners to achieve their personal best.” This requires our continued commitment to pursuing strategies around academic success, social emotional development, equity and collaboration. Our district leadership is committed to this and I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with them.
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?
I think the IAB has done an outstanding job in its role of serving in an advisory role to the Superintendent regarding issues of inclusion across the district. The group itself is made up of a cross-section of people including parents (with and without children in the district), teachers and administrators. Student voice has also been sought. One of the most important outcomes of this group’s work is the Inclusiveness Survey, which is given every other year and is intended to get a deeper understanding of how different groups in the district assess their own sense of belonging and inclusion. The tool is very useful and has led to important initiatives like the Advisory program at Roosevelt.
The Board’s Equity Committee, on the other hand, is charged with policy-making as it relates to ensuring that all students have access to success and positive outcomes in the district. I think the committee has done a good job to date, but the work continues. Going forward, the district will continue to work toward ensuring all students are given the opportunity to achieve their personal best. True equity is embedded in the culture and systems, it is beyond individual initiatives.
What do you see as the biggest challenges currently facing District 90?
As in all school districts, the biggest challenge will be recovery from the pandemic. The district has already put a plan in place to assess and address learning loss as well as provide social and emotional support for students and staff. It begins with understanding, now, where students are and, ultimately, providing the tools and opportunities to begin the rebound. It will require creativity and diligence, and a shared commitment from our community.
The district will also need to focus on finances, particularly as we come out of the pandemic and assess the impact.
In your assessment, how effective do you feel District 90’s response was to the COVID-19 pandemic?
I think the Superintendent and his leadership team made the decisions they thought to be the best at the time, given the information available. Navigating a pandemic is obviously exceptional and is difficult, there is no charted course to follow. I believe the district was disciplined and purposeful in seeking guidance and direction from a number of experts and leaders. As we have moved through it, and learned more, we have been able to pivot and make more informed decisions — always in the interest of doing what is best for the students and staff.
What do you see as the most urgent concerns in terms of student achievement in District 90?
The first concern will be getting a careful assessment of students as we come out of the pandemic and assess learning loss. The most urgent focus will be to ensure students get what they need throughout the summer and into the next school year.
Beyond that, we will continue our focus on equipping students with critical skills and competencies to ensure their future success — as we detail in our most recent strategic plan. Assessments are a component of understanding achievement, but the district wants to ensure that students are ready for the world that awaits them by giving them, in addition to rigorous instruction, a love of learning and a sense of agency and their place in the larger world.