The School Board, the Superintendent and community leaders honored outgoing Board members Keith Terry and Bonnie Lockhart for their four years of service on the District 65 School Board at their final meeting on May 2. Many focused on Mr. Terry’s leadership qualities and mentioned his role in negotiating the teachers’ contract, improving the school buildings and rebranding the magnet schools. Many lauded Ms. Lockhart’s focus on improving the health and well-being of students and her push to revise the District’s suspension system.
Superintendent Hardy Murphy said, “The relationship between the Board president and the Superintendent is very important.” He said he often called Mr. Terry before making decisions to ensure the decisions were coming from an informed perspective. “Keith played that role for me very well,” he said.
“Bonnie was also someone who understands how things work,” said Dr. Murphy. “Bonnie is one of those people who really understand the impact of making a decision on the organization, on the clients that we are to serve. And for us, that is our children, and the parents of our District.”
Dr. Murphy added that Ms. Lockhart and Mr. Terry played a role in many of the District’s initiatives in the last four years. He highlighted the new teacher appraisal system, the comprehensive professional development program, the enhancement of stakeholder engagement through the strategic plan and stakeholder surveys, the building improvements and classroom additions to the schools, and the establishment of a longer school day in the teacher contract negotiations.
School Board member Jerome Summers praised Mr. Terry for his organizational skills, his leadership, his efforts to improve the District’s buildings, his advocacy of giving an “identity to the magnet schools” and his role in advancing the five-year strategic plan. “You are a big-picture thinker and brought more of a business climate to the Board,” he said.
Referring to Ms. Lockhart’s advocacy of changing the District’s suspension policy, Mr. Summers said, “There are many, many children in the District who have not been suspended because Ms. Lockhart has always been an advocate for looking at our suspension programs. Now we have a very innovative suspension program.”
Katie Bailey also referred to Ms. Lockhart’s role in modifying the suspension program. “Our alternative to suspension, our close look at suspension data has changed the way we look at children and what their needs are. …You’ve changed the way we look at discipline.”
Addressing Mr. Terry, she said, “You’ve led us through some hard times and I go back to that February meeting – our Board self-evaluation – you took time to really listen to all of us, and that was key in moving us forward.”
She said she hoped both Mr. Terry and Ms. Lockhart would be available to offer views and guidance in the future.
“I’ve seen you handle some very difficult situations with maturity and wisdom,” Andy Pigozzi said to Mr. Terry. “When it mattered the most, you showed a strength and perseverance that I will admire the rest of my days.”
He told Ms. Lockhart, “You are the ideal Board member. You’re not overly consumed with the granular minutia and the details, but you listen, you pay attention and out of the blue you’ll come up with a point of view or develop an insight that in some instances has helped keep this Board together.”
Tracy Quattrocki said, “What you two have really taught me – the most important thing you’ve taught me – is that when we have disagreed and disagreed passionately about issues large and small, when the clouds have passed and we’ve come back to the table, I’ve realized what you’ve taught me is that we can have a great deal of respect for each other and on my part, a very genuine affection.”
Kim Weaver referred to Ms. Lockhart’s focus on wellness, suspensions and gardening, and said, “As a tribute to you, I’m going to continue that effort on your behalf, especially with respect to suspensions – keeping kids in school is very important.”
To Mr. Terry, she said, “I totally will miss your passion. You’re right out there in front. We all know where you stand on issues, on everything. I appreciate that.”
She added, “With both of you, I want to say one thing I’m going to miss very much is your perspective. You both bring a very different perspective than I have, and than really anyone else has, because we are all really unique.”
Ms. Lockhart thanked everyone for their comments. She said, “For everything there is a time and a season. While my season as a Board member is ending, my season as a concerned Evanstonian will never end. I’m not going away completely.”
She said she felt honored and privileged to serve on the Board. “District 65 has a story to tell. It’s a story that can help other districts to be better, and if Evanston knows that story, they will see that there have been great achievements in this District. These have not come easily, but they have come, and many of them under our current Superintendent.”
Mr. Terry, outgoing Board president, listed some of the Board’s accomplishments in the last four years, many of which were listed by Dr. Murphy. He said the Board pulled together and collaborated to make the District better today than it was four years ago. “The passion of what we’ve done is always about the kids.”
“There are voiceless children in this community. There are very wealthy kids in the community,” he continued. “The beauty of Evanston is the diversity of our economics, the diversity of our families, the diversity of our school buildings, the diversity of our administrators and teachers. And through it all we excel.”
He congratulated the newly elected Board members and challenged the new Board to keep making progress.