Eight candidates, including two incumbents, are vying for the four positions on the School District 202 Board of Education.  The RoundTable compiled a profile of each, including education, civic activities, etc., and then asked for their responses to the following: 1) State your views on the earned-honors program as it is currently implemented at Evanston Township High School. 2)  Please name two or three actions the Board could take, consistent with its goals,  that would help ETHS improve its education of all students – high-achieving, lower-achieving and those in the middle. 3) What differentiates you from the other candidates for the District 202 Board?

Pat Savage-Williams

Thumbnail Sketch: Indiana University, B.S. in psychology; Indiana University, masters of science in educational psychology. Resident of Evanston for 33 years. Worked for School District 65 for 25 years as a school psychologist. Currently, special education coordinator of New Trier High School. Two children, both attended District 65 and recently graduated from ETHS.

Civic Activities: Board member, Center for Life Skills, a counseling center in Chicago; board member of Child Care Center of Evanston; Girl Scout co-leader; member of Mixed Level Advisory Ad Hoc Committee at ETHS; co-facilitator of Community Conversations on Race at Evanston YWCA.

Earned-Honors Program: In the past, mixed-level classes were not well designed and the experience of students taking the courses for honors or regular credit was predominately teacher-dependent. (Sometimes there was no difference in levels at all.) The freshman-level restructured Humanities classes, however, are taught at the honors level for all students with a ninth-grade reading proficiency. Furthermore, the common assessments assure consistent expectations among teachers, and the clear rubrics provide ample information to students and parents about what is required. It is my understanding that the assessments are designed to teach the skills necessary for success in future honors and AP classes. I believe that all students deserve to have that foundation and an opportunity to participate in honors and AP classes.   Therefore, I support the restructure of Humanities and Biology. 

Possible Board Actions: Throughout my career, I have worked closely with dedicated school administrators, teaching staff and parents toward our common goal: to create high-achieving schools.

As a School Board member, I support the restructured Humanities and Biology classes.  I am anxious to review the results of the common assessments to ensure consistent expectations among teachers and ensure that clear rubrics provide ample information to students and parents about what is required.

Since it is my understanding that the assessments are designed to teach the skills necessary for success in future honors and AP classes, results will help us determine needed changes and improvements we would consider.  However, it is important to provide ample opportunity for the assessment results to be thoroughly conducted, as hard data may not be available until fall of 2014.  It is for this reason that I think the Board should continue to provide resources for teachers to use as a tool for differentiating curriculum and delivering high-quality instruction to students.  This will yield the foundation and an opportunity for all students to participate in honors and AP classes.

In this, the 21st century, it is essential to recognize how rapidly our society has changed, thus the need for the educational preparation to change as well.  Now more than ever, we need to prepare students for a global world experience.  To do this, we must be intentional about teaching students to be critical thinkers in an adaptive learning environment. 

Critical thinking involves the development of problem solving skills that individuals will be able to use in many facets of life.   Since as we know major decisions are made through team collaboration rather than independently, we must teach our students to be effective communicators and have the ability to collaborate with others.  Thus, they need to be able to work in harmony with others who may look and be very different from themselves. 

Distinguishing Attributes:  I will bring my perspective as a parent and an educator to the Board of Education. I worked as a school psychologist in Evanston District #65 for 25 years before moving to a high school as a special education coordinator.  I understand how students learn and what motivates adolescents.

My abilities as a listener and a problem-solver are valuable assets to the Board.   I believe that every student has the right to an education that enhances individual strengths, improves weaknesses and fosters confidence and self-esteem. 

Thus, my highest priority is to meet the needs of all students within our school community.