Tracy Quattrocki, who served eight years on the District 65 School Board, including three terms as President, and Claudia Garrison, who served four years on the Board, were honored for their service as they attended their last Board  meeting on May 1.  

Claudia Garrison

Ms. Garrison started at District 65 as a middle school teacher in 2001, and when  she retired as a teacher, she ran for and was elected to the School Board in 2013. Many people commented on the special perspective as a teacher that she brought to the Board

Jean Luft, a District 65 teacher and former president of the teachers’ union, said Ms. Garrison was “a strong advocate for children, families and educators in District 65. I know all of the District’s teachers and staff have appreciated your insight and knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the daily work environment, and that all the parents and students have appreciated your knowledge of instruction and curriculum.”

Richard Rykhus, who served on the Board for four years with Ms. Garrison, said, “You so often challenged the Board to think differently about situations, using the lens of a teacher, or staff person, or school leader. You helped us make better decisions as a Board.”

Diane Lequar, President of Foundation 65 said, “You always brought to the table the special knowledge of the work that teachers do and a deep understanding of how a decision at the Board level can or cannot impact the classroom. You provided insight into the everyday experiences of students in the classroom and the range and diversity of their abilities and experiences.”

Board President Candance Chow said, “You openly reflected on your own experience as an educator and, more recently, as we’ve been on our journey around equity, how an intentional focus on equity would and could shape instruction differently, and that’s been extremely fruitful to our discussion. You’ve pushed us to make decisions that were always grounded in how is this going to end up looking in the classroom and for our kids.”

Ms. Garrison said during her tenure the Board dealt with a situation in which the former superintendent resigned several weeks before school started, retained a new superintendent, adopted a five-year strategic plan, adopted an equity statement, negotiated a new contract with teachers, and approved a referendum.

She said, “I will miss my School Board colleagues and my District 65 friends more than I can say.”

Tracy Quattrocki

Katie Bailey, who served on the Board with Ms. Quattrocki for six years, said, “Tracy taught us all that simply making sure we use data to make decisions wasn’t good enough. We need to make sure we use meaningful data even though it showed us what we didn’t want to see. Tracy fought to make changes in programing and policies to improve the achievement of all groups of students.”

Ms. Bailey added that Ms. Quattrocki also expanded District 65’s work with the the District 202 School Board and elevated the shared work of the two Districts.

Jim Young, a District 65 parent, said, “Your belief that all students can succeed and your willingness and ability to pursue evidence-based strategies to enable their success is a hallmark of your service on the Board. You demanded transparency, accountability, and results.”

Mr. Rykhus, who served on the Board for six years with Ms. Quattrocki, said, “You set clear and high standards against which we measure our students’ success. … You brought a new level of decision-making to all of our work, which benefitted our District.” He added, “As President, you also worked continuously to keep the Board together, rather than let division set in that would have impaired our effectiveness.”

Ms. Lequar, President of Foundation 65, said “From where I sit, I see that you have brought the School Board to a firm commitment to data-driven decision making, a passion about setting high standards for all children to achieve, and a belief that this community can and must support the work of our educators.”

Ms. Chow cited Ms. Quattrocki’s leadership in retaining Superintendent Paul Goren. She added that Ms. Quattrocki had an “ability to hone in on an issue and ask the right question at the right time with the right intent. You brought unflinching passion with deep commitment and relentless dedication.”

Ms. Quattrocki said, “Serving on the School Board for the last eight years has been a privilege.”

For the future she said, “We have to set high standards, we have to be transparent about how kids are doing so we see both our strengths and our challenges, and so we can direct resources where they need to go.”

Ms. Quattrocki added, “The most important thing a Board member can do is hold onto the common assumption that each of us has the best interests of the students in mind, that even if we disagree about what the path forward looks like, we have roughly the same goal to see each student achieve his or her potential in life.

“It is only through open dialogue and respect for other points of view do we reach the best conclusions. Which is why we’re all sitting here – because we truly believe in the boundless potential of all children and our solemn responsibility to help them reach their goals.”

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...