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home : elections : elections July 23, 2017

3/8/2017 9:00:00 AM
District 202 School Board Candidates, Profiles

Evanston has two School Boards.  The District 65 School Board oversees the elementary and middle schools and the pre-primary program; the District 202 School Board guides Evanston Township High School.  Both Districts include all of Evanston and a small part of Skokie.  Each Board has seven members serving four-year terms (except where a Board member resigns and another person is appointed to serve the balance of the term or is on the ballot to fill the balance of a term).  Elections take place in the spring of odd-numbered years for three or four members of each Board.  Each School Board is responsible for adopting and overseeing policies, setting the budget, levying taxes to support the budget, and entering into contracts for professional personnel and services to the schools.  School Boards also select the superintendent of schools who is responsible for implementing school policies and administering school operations. 

School Board members are volunteers and receive no salary.  



There are six candidates for four open positions on the District 202 School Board: Russell Kohnken, Jude Laude, Gretchen Livingston (incumbent), Patricia Maunsel, Anne M Sills (incumbent), and Patricia Williams (incumbent). Voters will vote for four of the candidates in the April 4 election.

The League of Women Voters of Evanston (LWVE) and the Evanston RoundTable have partnered in preparing profiles of these candidates. Each candidate was asked to provide background information and to answer a set of questions prepared and sent to the candidates by the LWVE and the RoundTable, with answers limited to 150 words. The profiles below contain each candidate’s unedited responses to the questions (up to the stated word limit for each response). A thumbnail sketch of each candidate was prepared by RoundTable staff, based on the background information provided by the candidate.




Russell Kohnken



Thumbnail sketch:
B.S. in Biology, SUNY Brockport; Ph.D. Biochemistry, Michigan State University;  M.A. in Teaching, National Louis University. Employment: Chicago American Chemical Society (ACS) High School Education Chair and Science Coach. Previous employment: Biomedical research in academic (Northwestern, Michigan State), private (Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, Molecular Geriatrics), and Pharma (Abbott) settings. Teaching career includes Oakton Community and Elmhurst Colleges as adjunct faculty, and Evanston Township High School, 2001-15.

Civic activities: Grace Lutheran Church treasurer; Union Concerned Scientists Clean Energy Advocate; and American Association of Chemistry Teachers webinar presenter. Previous activities: ETHS School Improvement Team, grading committee, and Ultimate Frisbee sponsor;  AYSO and Little League coach; Grace church council chair, Sunday School director.  Lived in Skokie-Evanston 27 years; two children graduated from ETHS in 2005 and 2008.

Question: What are your key attributes that qualify you for a position on the District 65 School Board?

As both teacher and scientist, I am good at interpreting data, formulating questions, proposing solutions, and, importantly, having insight into the lives of our students.    As a scientist, I am adept at looking at group data, while as a teacher, I can look at the individual stories of my students.  I will apply both perspectives to issues confronting ETHS.

I’ve had the privilege of teaching some of our strongest and weakest students with very different needs and experiences.  I learned ways to give each what they needed, which is at the heart of equity in education.  For example, at the beginning of my general chemistry class, I arranged a meeting between student families and me in order to establish lines of communication, have families comfortable with me, and show we were working together to help the student succeed.  I didn’t do this in AP; they needed different things from me.

Question: What would be your top three priorities as a School Board member? What would you do to advance your priorities?

Listening is my first priority.  We have many community and school groups who can contribute to improving ETHS.  I will reach out to these groups to hear them and their concerns.

My highest priority is to improve educational outcomes, particularly for minority students.  I support the early literacy efforts currently being explored.  At ETHS, I will look for structural impediments, including stereotype threat, which could derail the progress being made.

A third priority is to better connect support structures and students.  The problem is timing; how do we communicate when needed?  I will explore an advisory model wherein a staff member is with the same students for four years.  This can create good relationships and serves to communicate supports to students when they need it.  Although this would necessitate restructuring our daily schedule and may have costs, it can supplant a number of other efforts that we currently make.

Question: Describe one or two specific contributions you would make to enhance the achievement and critical thinking skills of students at all levels of achievement?

When I was still teaching at ETHS, professional development time was often spent in activities mandated by administration that did not directly address student achievement.  Assuming that this is still an issue, I will encourage our administration to free up time for teachers to share what they’ve done in the classroom, both good and bad, so that they can learn from each other.

In my reading of NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) and Common Core, there is now a greater emphasis on thinking skills and process.  While this is good, I have heard that the standards are often applied poorly.  As we are in the process of applying them at ETHS, I would encourage the administration to work with faculty to apply these programs in a way that does enhance achievement and thinking skills.

Question: Is the District moving in the right direction and doing enough to address issues of equity and disparities in achievement between different demographic groups? Identify one or two things you think the District is doing right and one or two things you think the District should be doing that it is not currently doing?

ETHS is certainly moving in the right direction, and you can argue that it is never enough until we have achieved equity and excellence.  There is a recognition that the school cannot solve equity disparities alone, and so the efforts to work more with the community, including student mentoring and childhood literacy, are examples of strategies with which I agree.

I would like to see the board listen more.  There is a student representative who provides that perspective, but the staff and teachers are rarely heard from.  As they have direct contact with the students, their experiences could enhance the strategies developed by the board.  It also needs to seek out minority group members who are not routinely heard from.  I have learned a lot from speaking with individualsduring this campaign, enriching my personal understanding of the problems we face.

Question: Do you think the District 202 Board should define its goal that students be “college ready” in terms of having the skills necessary to do C-level work in college, or should it aim higher, such as having the skills to do B-level work in college? Explain your answer.

I once asked Dr. Witherspoon why we graduated students who needed remedial classes in college.  He replied, “That’s a good question”.  How do we decide what makes a student ‘college ready’, and how can we tell?  The current board, with district 65, has long labored on this question. I’d rather choose a higher level of college achievement, such as B level work into the second year of college.  Often this is required to maintain status in a majors program and therefore necessary to pursuing a chosen career. 

I also recognize that many students are not intending to attend college.  ETHS has greatly expanded the options for those students through the CTE department.  We need some measure of ‘career readiness’ for this group too.

Finally, gap years and students who drop out of college for non-academic reasons complicate analysis, and we have to assimilate this information too.

Question: Do you think our high school students are given enough guidance about choosing a college or career path after graduation? Explain your answer.

The ETHS College and Career center does wonderful work.  Is it enough?  I’m sure that for some students it is not.  Keep in mind that there are many high school students who don’t know what they want as a career; I didn’t.  Perhaps a better question is whether our students take full advantage of what is available at ETHS, and if not, how do we help them do so.

In question 3, I referenced an advisory model to better connect students to the supports available.  This is another example where that model would prove helpful.  The advisors in this case can begin conversations about post-secondary goals freshman year, or whenever the student is ready, and College and Career center staff can meet in that advisory setting with students.

Question: How essential are student, parent and school partnerships, and what is needed to make them successful?  What role should District 202 play in the Cradle to Career initiative?

I do not believe that we can achieve equity and excellence without these partnerships.  It is clear that the current board and administration feel similarly, and have initiated efforts to nurture these partnerships.

We have to deepen the relationship with district 65 so that from the parent and family perspective, we look like one district.  Expectations for student performance would be consistent and clear, supports for students would be age and developmentally appropriate, and communication and interaction with families would be easy, encouraged, and common.

What can ETHS do with C2C?  While we may not be able to help directly with pre-K literacy efforts, once children are in school, particularly during summers, we can facilitate reading efforts.  Many high school students would be happy to serve as either readers or mentors to young children, and again, we can provide a safe, supervised space for those interactions.

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Jude Laude



Thumbnail sketch:
B.S. in  Psychology, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana; Completing Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Governor State University. Educator since 1991. Current employment: High School counselor at North Lawndale College Prep High School. Previous employment: Instructor at the Malcolm X College Academic Support Center for the Pre-College Institute; Counselor for the Chicago State University Upward Board Program; Post-Secondary Counselor at Clemente High School. Born and raised in Evanston; two children at ETHS, two in District 65 schools.

Civic Activities: AYSO coach; Phoenix MAP Male Achievement Program, founder; Harmony Church Food Pantry, volunteer; Foundation 65, Board member. 

Question: What are your key attributes that qualify you for a position on the District 65 School Board?

I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana. Currently, I am completing a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Governor State University. I have been an educator since 1991. I have served as an instructor at the Malcolm X College Academic Support Center for the Pre-College Institute, a counselor for the  Chicago State University Upward Board Program, a post-secondary counselor at Clemente High School, and a High School counselor at North Lawndale College Prep High School (NLCP) for the past eight years. Over the past several years, I have implemented restorative justice practices as an alternative form of discipline for high school students. I have created and implemented a male mentoring program  for high school boys which has been in existence for the past three years. I have also been a member of the design team for an all-boys charter school in Chicago.

Question: What would be your top three priorities as a School Board member? What would you do to advance your priorities?

Increased student exposure to postsecondary/college and career pathways. Research shows that the earlier students are exposed to college as an expectation and opportunity the more likely they are to attend. This is a benefit to all students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds who will likely be the first in their family to attend college. As a post-secondary counselor in Chicago’s inner city, I have seen the benefits of this early exposure.

Greater parental/ community engagement. Parental engagement is essential to students’ academic success. Parents also should be involved in school planning, where appropriate, and should be connected to community resources when supports are needed for the well being of their families. For those parents from communities, which tend to be disengaged, their must be a welcoming school climate.

Decreasing the Achievement Gap. There must be a concerted effort taken, with a sense of urgency, to address the literacy deficits of those students who are reading below grade level. …

Question: Describe one or two specific contributions you would make to enhance the achievement and critical thinking skills of students at all levels of achievement?

Advocating for the hiring of literacy experts who will have the full support of the administration and respect of the faculty. The role of these experts is to teach best practices and strategies, and to closely monitor the progress of teachers. The literacy experts would not only support teachers in the classroom, yet also provide professional development.

Promoting the alignment of the curriculum framework horizontally across all subjects to allow for interdisciplinary projects where teachers work collaboratively so that students are simultaneously working on projects which teach and reinforce the same skills/standards.

Question: Is the District moving in the right direction and doing enough to address issues of equity and disparities in achievement between different demographic groups? Identify one or two things you think the District is doing right and one or two things you think the District should be doing that it is not currently doing?

Traditionally, in Evanston, there has been an achievement gap where  those who are disadvantaged are not performing on par with their peers, and are furthermore less prepared to succeed in postsecondary education and /or lack the basic skills to make inroads into career and technical fields.  It is to the benefit of this entire great community that we provide the academic support, social emotional supports, and ongoing college and career exposure, so that these students are learning the academic skills, which make them college ready, and further guide them in the process of identifying potential career pathways.

Students who are high achievers, must be continuously be challenged  through curriculum rigour, while expanding their depth of knowledge through interaction and problem solving alongside their peers who may not share the same skill level, yet bring to discussions a unique reference point. Recently, the district has had greater inclusion in Honors and AP courses, and an increasing number of students have received college credit at the AP level.

Question: Do you think the District 202 Board should define its goal that students be “college ready” in terms of having the skills necessary to do C-level work in college, or should it aim higher, such as having the skills to do B-level work in college? Explain your answer.

The focus should not merely be on the letter grade, yet rather on a growth mindset where students develop their intelligence and mastery over time, while learning to overcome challenges. Students who receive “A’s” in high school may not automatically receive  “A’s” in college. Future academic success in college involves many more factors. The importance of persevering and accessing supports when facing academic challenges is critical at the college level. Students who received “C’s” in high school, often times, have developed the resiliency to be successful in college.

Question: Do you think our high school students are given enough guidance about choosing a college or career path after graduation? Explain your answer.

Although a great percentage of our students transition into college upon graduation, too many of our graduates do not move on to higher education or skilled jobs which require special training. There must be more college exposure and guidance given to students who are potential first generation college students, and more opportunities to explore careers.

Question: How essential are student, parent and school partnerships, and what is needed to make them successful?  What role should District 202 play in the Cradle to Career initiative?

The more engaged and informed parents are, the greater the likelihood that their child will perform well academically. Informed and engaged parents are better able to encourage their children to complete assignments, study for assessments, stay organized, effectively manage time and schedule, while meeting deadlines. Furthermore, parents who are involved and informed tend to communicate readily with teachers, and thus are in a better position to advocate for their students. Teachers and administration should make parent communication a priority, and should be responsive to parent needs and questions through effective school to parent and parent to school communication. Parents also should be involved in school planning, where appropriate, and should be connected to community resources when supports are needed for the well being of their families. For those parents from communities, which tend to be disengaged, their must be a welcoming school climate.  The Cradle to Career initiative seeks to confront the problem of inequity in our community through a collaborative effort of different sectors in Evanston.

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Gretchen Livingston



Thumbnail sketch:
A.B. University of Michigan; J.D. Loyola University of Chicago Law School. Current Member 202 Board. Former employment: Partner, Jenner & Block, Chicago: environmental litigation, pro bono work including successful appeal to Illinois Supreme Court in capital case.

Civic activities: Past President of District 202 Board; current/past member Board Committees:  Finance, Policy, Audit, City-School, Joint 65/202, Community Legislative Group, ED-RED (Vice-Chair), Oakton Community College Governing Board, Evanston Cradle to Career, PTSA, School Improvement Team, Substance Abuse Team, School-Based Health Center Advisory Board. Past Member D65 Wellness Council, Calendar Committee, PTSA Environment Committee Chair, Wellness Team member at Haven; tutor, co-founder of Knitting Club, room parent at Lincolnwood. Former Board member, Interfaith Housing Association of Northern Suburbs (now Open Communities; former Board member and Government relations chair, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Illinois, coordinated federal and state legislative and grassroots advocacy.

Lived in Evanston 27 years. Two children who went to Evanston public schools.

Question: What are your key attributes that qualify you for a position on the District 65 School Board?

Two attributes that qualify me for continued service are diligence (I do my homework, seek out information, and participate in activities that supplement Board work) and openness (I spend time in the community learning from others).  Reading the packet before meeting is only part of the job.  During my Board service, including a term as President, I completed mandatory training required of school board members and also training by the Illinois Association of School Boards, our District law firm, Loyola Law School, Teaching Tolerance, and many Evanston and other not-for-profits on topics including equity, diversity, and inclusion, gender identity, legislation, social media, and curriculum (access and success in advanced courses). I serve as Vice-Chair of the ED-RED Executive Board to stay current on state legislative issues of critical importance to our District.  Through this work I learn about our community and its needs in ways that enhance my Board work.

Question: What would be your top three priorities as a School Board member? What would you do to advance your priorities?

It is difficult to limit priorities to three, because we have four goals, and all deserve attention.  Within that framework, three areas are priorities: 

1) Work with D65 to establish measures for progress towards our joint literacy goal as part of our ongoing effort to eliminate differences in achievement based on race, income, disabilities, and language, particularly for students not reading at grade level when they arrive at ETHS, and share reports of progress or lack thereof under those measures in a transparent way with the community;

2) Continue to support Evanston school interests on legislative issues through my leadership role in ED-RED, our school advocacy organization, where I am on the Executive Board. State dysfunction threatens ETHS’ financial stability and our advocacy will be increasingly important;

3) Advocate for policies that reduce differences in discipline predictable by race because students who are not in the classroom cannot succeed.

Question: Describe one or two specific contributions you would make to enhance the achievement and critical thinking skills of students at all levels of achievement?

I will urge adoption of measures to monitor progress towards our joint D65/202 literacy goal and District goals and press for communication of progress to the community.  Under my leadership as Board President we developed our first ever joint board goal, began joint achievement reporting, increased and opened meetings of the joint board committee, and added another joint board meeting.  Besides the joint goal, two other goals relate to achievement: Goal 1 (equitable and excellent education, which calls out race, as well as income, disability, and language status) and Goal 2 (student well-being). I will urge measures of progress that are evidence-based, and set a high bar for our students, taking into account the different paths our students take post-ETHS, whether they opt for a 4-year college, employment, or further technical training.  I also support increased dual credit opportunities (with community colleges) as part of my ED-RED advocacy work.

Question: Is the District moving in the right direction and doing enough to address issues of equity and disparities in achievement between different demographic groups? Identify one or two things you think the District is doing right and one or two things you think the District should be doing that it is not currently doing?

ETHS is a leader in Evanston on equity, and received an award from YOU this year for its equity work. I helped draft our District equity and excellence statement just after I was elected to the Board, and I have consistently supported connecting this statement to policy and practice, including in our recent goal revision.  As a result, we have increased access and success for all students, particularly students of color, in advanced classes (and accepted the National School Board Association Magna award for that work), and reduced racial disparities in discipline.  But we have more work to do on achievement and discipline.  Improving both curriculum and supports, especially for students reading below grade level, is critical, as is close examination of the discipline referral process.  Dr. Witherspoon’s post-election remarks supporting all students and our new safe haven resolution protecting undocumented students reflect the energy around equity at ETHS.

Question: Do you think the District 202 Board should define its goal that students be “college ready” in terms of having the skills necessary to do C-level work in college, or should it aim higher, such as having the skills to do B-level work in college? Explain your answer.

As I complete this questionnaire, our measures of progress on Goal 1 (equitable and excellent academics), have yet to be established (nor has the measure for our joint board goal been finalized), but we have always contemplated a multiple measure approach, which means that we will not look at just grades or test scores to determine progress.  Instead we will look at a group of measures that together will help us understand student progress under the goal.  Many, including me, have urged a high bar for all students, recognizing that our students take different paths after ETHS.  The selected measures must be evidence-based, useful to our staff, and understandable for our families.  In addition to setting a high bar, measures must be “back mappable” so that we can know whether our students on the K-12 continuum are on the path to graduation and intervene appropriately.

Question: Do you think our high school students are given enough guidance about choosing a college or career path after graduation? Explain your answer.

There can ever be enough guidance in this area.  Since I joined the Board, and thanks to our staff, ETHS offers programming for students and parents at every grade level to help with post-secondary planning that never previously existed.  This work is complemented by Naviance (the on-line planning tool) and ICAPS or Individualized Career and Academic Plans.  We have added staff in our college and career center so that we now have people dedicated to job placement in addition to college placement.  We also partner with organizations beyond ETHS, include YJC and YOU, and more recently the new organization founded by Hecky Powell (Evanston Work Ethic) to help young people joining the workforce or enrolling in training programs rather than college.  I also serve on the Prepared for Adult Life committee of Evanston Cradle to Career, which is looking closely at ways to help young people move into the workforce.

Question: How essential are student, parent and school partnerships, and what is needed to make them successful?  What role should District 202 play in the Cradle to Career initiative?

Partnerships are critical to achievement of goals.  Both Districts have increasingly treated our students’ time in school as a continuum, rather than separate experiences in two Districts.  Equally importantly, our community is realizing that its young people can be supported by the entire community, a view epitomized by the Cradle to Career initiative, which aligns the work of not-for-profits across Evanston so that we can make more transparent progress towards our common goal and avoid duplication of services. At ETHS we support parent/guardian and student groups, including affinity groups for our families’ varied identities. We have improved our one way communication (through social media, for example).  We need to improve our two-way communication to make input from all easier.  This approach (along with our other work, including equity work) will move us closer to eliminating differences in achievement across race, income, disability, and language lines. 

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Patricia Maunsell



Thumbnail sketch:
B.A. in History and Political Science, University of Vermont; M.A. in Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University.; and BA, history and political science, University of Vermont.  Employment: Communications consultant for over 17 years working with education organizations and school districts focusing on implementing efforts to improve student success; 30 years working in schools, districts, and education organizations, including Senior management positions at several national nonprofit organizations including the Children’s Defense Fund and the Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform; high school teacher in Chicago.

Civic activities: McGaw YMCA Board of Directors (current Board Chair); Sheil Catholic Center School of Religion (Co-Director); Foundation 65 Board of Directors (VP); Kingsley Elementary School PTA (Co-President); Cherry Preschool Board of Directors (President); Leadership Evanston

Lived in Evanston 16+ years. My son is a 2014 graduate and my daughter is a junior at ETHS.

Question: What are your key attributes that qualify you for a position on the District 65 School Board?

Commitment.  Supporting the education and success of all young people has been my life-long commitment. My professional and personal experiences have grounded me in my mission to serve young people and our community.

Knowledge.  As an ETHS school board member, I will share years of experience working in schools, districts, and education organizations. I will bring my knowledge of education research, policy, and best practices to all issues that come before the board.

Collaboration. Throughout my career, I have consistently been someone who listens and maintains a positive working relationship with people.  While staying true to my values, I am able to bring people together, find common ground, and work from there to find solutions.

Question: What would be your top three priorities as a School Board member? What would you do to advance your priorities?

Excellence & Equity.  ETHS is an amazing school. To truly achieve excellence, however, ETHS must ensure that every student has access to and benefits from all of the great opportunities it offers.

Educate the Whole Student.  Preparing all students for the future requires engaging, challenging academics and a commitment to each student’s overall success.  Students need to learn to collaborate, communicate, think critically, and feel good about themselves and their relationships with others. 

Communicate & Engage. A great school like ETHS requires the attention and input of students, staff, families, and the community. By establishing a two-way dialogue and collaborative relationship with all stakeholders, the school can inform while gathering valuable perspectives that will support a stronger, richer educational experience for all.

As a board member, I will serve as a critical friend, asking questions, and encouraging constant reflection, continuous support, and commitment to do more for each student.

Question: Describe one or two specific contributions you would make to enhance the achievement and critical thinking skills of students at all levels of achievement?

School boards are intended to serve as champions for public education and stewards of the community’s interests.  The school board sets policy and approves key components of the school’s work including budgets and curricula.  I will bring my knowledge of education research, policy, and practice and my understanding of how schools work and the issues our students and educators face to all decisions that come before the board.  I will evaluate and push to ensure ETHS’s efforts support and advance all students.  If and when difficult financial choices need to be made, I will prioritize those efforts that support student achievement and are most important to student growth and success.  I will also support a two-way dialogue to ensure the community understands ETHS’s efforts and has an opportunity to share insights and pose questions that will enhance the work and help make it stronger and more supportive of all students.

Question: Is the District moving in the right direction and doing enough to address issues of equity and disparities in achievement between different demographic groups? Identify one or two things you think the District is doing right and one or two things you think the District should be doing that it is not currently doing?

ETHS is moving in the right direction.  The joint literacy goal with District 65 was a great decision because literacy is such a fundamental part of learning across the curriculum.  Viewing literacy as a continuum allows coherent support for students K12. 

The board’s decision to apply learning from the freshman restructuring to sophomore year will increase students’ exposure to high quality teaching and learning and prepare more students for upper level courses.  This restructuring included: professional development for teachers around differentiating instruction; more rigorous curriculum; clarity of expectations for student performance; and development of a culture of support where all students seek out help.

ETHS is a complex place with many students and many needs.  We need to keep working to continually refine, strengthen, and expand these and other efforts to ensure each student has the academic and social emotional supports needed to benefit from all that ETHS offers. 

Question: Do you think the District 202 Board should define its goal that students be “college ready” in terms of having the skills necessary to do C-level work in college, or should it aim higher, such as having the skills to do B-level work in college? Explain your answer.

In education, we often seek one number to tell a complete story.  Unfortunately, this rarely gives a complete picture of what a student knows and is able to do.  Using multiple measures, gathered over time, gives a much better sense of a student’s progress and if they are “college ready.”  These measures should include different things at different points throughout a student’s education and might include: rigor of courses taken and whether a student continued to increase their challenge over time; grades received and if their grades improved over time; scores on standardized tests and; other experiences that show a student’s maturity and readiness for college.  While we certainly want students to get good grades and test scores, we need to ensure that we are preparing all students and are measuring their progress and success effectively. 

Question: Do you think our high school students are given enough guidance about choosing a college or career path after graduation? Explain your answer.

College and career advising is an area where ETHS has done really wonderful work and still has more work to do.  In the last few years, more opportunities for students and parents have been added to provide students with information about their options for the future and what they can do at ETHS to prepare for those options.  Additionally, adding classes like geometry for construction and making more explicit the connections between course work at ETHS and college and careers (specifically through the Y Achievers program and more generally across all classes) helps students connect their high school work with their future.  ETHS is, however, a big place and more work needs to be done to make these connections and support each student through the process of preparing for and then making decisions about their future.

Question: How essential are student, parent and school partnerships, and what is needed to make them successful?  What role should District 202 play in the Cradle to Career initiative?

Strong, positive relationships are essential in education. Students need to be known and cared for by the adults in their lives.  Working together, parents, educators and others in the community must develop relationships whereby they are welcoming of each other and work to build understanding and trust.  Relationships built on trust and knowledge of the students allow for an ongoing dialogue and a team approach to supporting all young people to achieve.  The Cradle to Career initiative is an important, citywide effort to focus the expertise of many organizations working with young people to support and track the progress of Evanston’s youth.  Districts 65 and 202 can, and do, play a critical, leadership role in this effort as the schools are the main point of contact for young people for much of their lives from birth to 23.

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Pat Savage-Williams



Thumbnail sketch:
B.S. in Psychology, Indiana University; M.S. in Education, Educational Psychology, Indiana University;  Education Leadership and Supervision (Type 75), General Administration Certificate; Type 73, School Psychology, National-Louis University.

Civic activities: District 202 School Board, 2013-president (current President of Board); Board member Center for Life Skills (Counseling Center); Board member Child Care Center of Evanston; Girl Scout Co-leader for Troop 2467 (2005-12); Evanston Township High School Mixed Level Advisory Ad Hoc Committee Member  (2009-11); Co-facilitator of Community Conversations on Race at the Evanston YWCA (Summer, 2011-13). 

Evanston-Skokie resident since 1979. Two children, both ETHS graduates.

Question: What are your key attributes that qualify you for a position on the District 65 School Board?

Professionally, I have worked as an educator for 39 years, with students from pre-school through grade 12. My 25 years as a School Psychologist in District 65 gives me unique awareness of the issues that students and families face in our community, as does my current position as School Psychologist and Special Education Coordinator in a North Shore high school for the past twelve years.  Given my strong understanding of the many pressures that adolescents grapple with today, particularly in our community, I believe that my professional expertise is an asset to the School Board.

I have an understanding and experience with issues of Equity and Diversity.  I know how to hold productive conversations about the impact of race and racism with people of all races and ages.  I am experienced in facilitating both formal and informal sessions that deepen the understanding of all participants and encourage ongoing dialogues. 

Question: What would be your top three priorities as a School Board member? What would you do to advance your priorities?

Student Achievement:  I continue to support the 1st goal of Equitable and Excellent Education for all students. Promoting the success of all students is necessary to accomplish this goal. 

Social-emotional Well-being of Students: I would love to see all students connect with at least one adult at school but this is hard to measure and accomplish.  However, I know from my work with adolescents that social-emotional health is a grave importance to students as they move through these years and this is a high priority. This includes targeting at-risk students and providing direct intervention and supports to all students. 

Financial Stability:  ETHS has maintained a triple A bond rating and presented another balanced budget.  It is a high priority to continue this pattern even in these tenuous times.   

Question: Describe one or two specific contributions you would make to enhance the achievement and critical thinking skills of students at all levels of achievement?

Supporting the Equity Statement by assuring that Equity is embedded in all of our policies and practices.  It is easy to have such a statement but harder to make it a part of who we are and what we do.  This promotes the success of all students and targets those with the most needs. Throughout my career, I have worked closely with dedicated school administrators, teaching staff and parents toward out common goal: to create high achieving schools.  I continue to work for this by supporting our Equity initiative. 

Highlighting the accomplishments of ETHS and recognizing the incredible staff who are highly committed to our students.  It is important to partner with the community and leverage and mobilize the resources of our community to support our youth.

Question: Is the District moving in the right direction and doing enough to address issues of equity and disparities in achievement between different demographic groups? Identify one or two things you think the District is doing right and one or two things you think the District should be doing that it is not currently doing?

I believe the achievement gap or educational disparities continue to warrant our full attention and intention.  Although there is no biological evidence that race is significant, the impact is real and there is a societal permanence that is included as one of the key elements of the critical race theory.

I believe that we need to take a close look at ourselves and our systems to help us understand the impact of both overt and subtle forms of racism.  Our history along with subtle policies and systems that we don't recognize because they feel "normal", have also contributed to these disparities.  This gap has damaged the mental health of all of our students.  Ongoing discussion and effort to dismantle these patterns require all to be at the table to participate in a discussion that includes genuine self-examination and minimizes the complexity of a destructive pattern in history.  

Question: Do you think the District 202 Board should define its goal that students be “college ready” in terms of having the skills necessary to do C-level work in college, or should it aim higher, such as having the skills to do B-level work in college? Explain your answer.

College readiness is an important issue for all. We all want our graduates to be successful.  This has been an important topic at our board meetings.  Our administration has partnered with Northwestern and D65 to determine an outcome for college readiness that is specific to ETHS students.  It is a common misconception that ETHS can access their graduates’ college transcripts. Privacy law prevents that.  The conversation around ETHS student grades in college is just not realistic-given legal constraints.  However, ETHS has access to what colleges ETHS students attend, how many semesters they enroll, and when they graduate. 

Northwestern professor Dr. Figlio has told the board that this information can be analyzed to determine a specific college readiness outcome for our students and to develop a multiple measure “on-track” indicator for individual students.  This will allow both 202 and 65 to better support our students along the road to college readiness. …

Question: Do you think our high school students are given enough guidance about choosing a college or career path after graduation? Explain your answer.

It is my understanding that many adolescents struggle if asked to select a profession and they may be stiffled if pushed to make this decision prematurely.  Therefore, it is essemtial to encourage students to take courses in CTE as an opportunity to explore and experience rather than selecting a specific career.  For some, this may lead them to a career but for others, they may develop skills and have experiences that will help them broaden their options and choices. 

I think students should be asked what they like to do, what they are good at and be provided with current careers that will likely be sustained in this changing society.

Question: How essential are student, parent and school partnerships, and what is needed to make them successful?  What role should District 202 play in the Cradle to Career initiative?

I am a firm believer in collaboration of all sorts--we need to have every voice heard and as much creativity in the decision-making process when we create programs to meet our students' needs. I know that we support these partnerships for all students.  Our relationship with C2C, District 65 and Northwestern has really expanded over the past few years.     We have the Joint Literacy Goal and we Cradle to Career has chosen to focus on community literacy and reading.   This is a great start, and should be continued. 

We will have a Data Sharing Agreement with Oakton Community College, NU, and District 65 to deepen these partnerships. 

                        ……………………………………………………………………..

 

Anne Sills



Thumbnail sketch: ETHS alum ('69); mother of two ETHS alums (’02, ’05). Chose to work rather than attend college; operated a catering business for 17 years.

Civic activities: Member, District 202 School Board; 202 Board representative on the Community Legislative Committee and ED-RED; president, Evanston Food Exchange.  Volunteer at schools, PTA; led PTA Council; SIT team at ETHS; K-12 standards project; volunteer for 2009 District 65 referendum; Leadership Evanston graduate; Joint legislative Task Force of the PTA. Lived in Evanston 30 years.

Question: What are your key attributes that qualify you for a position on the District 65 School Board?

I am experienced, fair minded, empathetic, and a deliberate leader

I have been on both sides of issues. As a business owner/entrepreneur, I understand what service and work ethic mean. As a community volunteer, I have a history of being in conversation. People seek me out, look forward to my views, in grocery stores, meetings, at church, and events. I am uniquely qualified to assess issues from multiple perspectives. I understand the relationship between the school board and the community and the need for open dialogue that is heart felt. I am at the board table and have been in front of it. I am a life long learner and an ambassador for the Board and ETHS. I have been trained in board governance and am growing in my capacity to be a better equity leader, a better board member, a better human being. I am available and willing.

Question: What would be your top three priorities as a School Board member? What would you do to advance your priorities?

My three top priorities:

 - student achievement through high expectations and equal access.

 - fiscal stability through good governance, strong management, and oversight.

 - to nurture conversation, collaboration, partnerships, and networking in support of every student.

I will advance my priorities by:

  - fighting for the rights for all students to learn by interrupting the processes that still cause disparities even after so many years of effort- to tackle head on systematic bias that prevent students from learning.

  - being part of preparing the community for changes that may be ahead if our funding sources from local tax dollars shrink or are further restricted by law. This will be accomplished together as a board with the administration utilizing the leadership of the superintendent and CFO.

  - adhering to board goals and measures, and approving strategies for education specific to the distinct needs of young adults in District 202.

Question: Describe one or two specific contributions you would make to enhance the achievement and critical thinking skills of students at all levels of achievement?

I will continue to champion an AVID program as an effective intervention in middle school, to prepare students for a seamless transition to AVID at ETHS; critical thinking, building student skills in-line with Board Goal 1; increase each student's academic and functional trajectory http://www.eths.k12.il.us/Page/829

 I will continue to advocate and be part of community efforts that change the factors which influence and predict student disparities in achievement

Question: Is the District moving in the right direction and doing enough to address issues of equity and disparities in achievement between different demographic groups? Identify one or two things you think the District is doing right and one or two things you think the District should be doing that it is not currently doing?

Yes, the district is moving in the right direction and with the help all who work on behalf of our students, we can and will do more. The district has opened pathways for learning that are not based on one test or one opinion but on opportunity and in defense of the right to learn.

District 202 has positively:

  - changed school culture making ETHS student centered, a welcoming environment for students and families, and a professional workplace for teachers dedicated to best practices.

  - impacted public education by it's ability to bring about change; setting an example through strong targeted board and superintendent leadership that has become a research model and example for what is possible for other communities with achievement disparities.

District 202 could:

  - gain more understanding of student and parent need through greater involvement by parents and students in affinity groups that offer safe space for discussion and problem solving.

Question: Do you think the District 202 Board should define its goal that students be “college ready” in terms of having the skills necessary to do C-level work in college, or should it aim higher, such as having the skills to do B-level work in college? Explain your answer.

I cannot commit to a yes or no answer at this point. We have been in conversation about this for a long time and are working to go beyond the "Redefining Ready" criteria developed by Arlington Heights SD 214. Every freshman college experience is unique and college grade information is not available to high schools for privacy reasons. Our administration evaluates what is best for D202 based on the data we have about what prepares ETHS students for college and career. Dr. David Figlio of Northwestern University, in partnership with District 65 and District 202, is working to develop measures of readiness for an Evanston specific outcome based on back mappable student data. This is a tool to get to where we want our students to be; to optimize access and success in college and career. I am eager to see the results of this partnership.

Question: Do you think our high school students are given enough guidance about choosing a college or career path after graduation? Explain your answer.

Yes and no. Counselor loads are high and the Board could approve the hiring of more counselors if the administration recommended this and requested approval. Counselors help students with where they are going after high school by keeping them on track with graduation requirements; guiding student interest to opportunities; underscoring expectations and monitoring performance; and addressing financial issues and student aid. The Oakton Community College office at ETHS works with students to align their high school course credits with credit bearing course requirements for junior college. Career and Technical Education at ETHS connects learning to work and Northwestern KIT KAT campus tours, college fairs, and recruitment of athletes all play a part in college decision making. Student interest drives everything and ETHS does a great job opening doorways.

Question: How essential are student, parent and school partnerships, and what is needed to make them successful?  What role should District 202 play in the Cradle to Career initiative?

Partnerships are valued and essential for building confidence, trust, and capacity. ETHS succeeds in communicating well with parents and students by listening, acting, and respecting individual narratives. Caring adults come together to help each student achieve their best.

Dr. Witherspoon was integral in the formation of Evanston Cradle to Career and remains a partner dedicated to making this collective impact initiative work for students and families. It is an asset based model for community development that Evanston is building. Our community is education oriented, committed, and draws from all our capacity for the common good.

 

 



Related Links:
• Evanston/Skokie PTA Council: Information re District 202 School Board Candidates



Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Comment by: Melanie Hanna

It would be more beneficial to readers to display answers from candidates to the same question side by side (or one right after the other) so we can compare more easily.



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