The RoundTable asked the four candidates for the District 202 School Board to provide information about their education and civic activities and provide answers to three questions. RoundTable staff compiled the Thumbnail Sketch.  The answers to the questions are in the candidates’ own words.

Elizabeth Rolewicz

Thumbnail Sketch/Civic Experience:

Background: BFA, film/video and photographic arts, University of Illinois at Chicago; senior graphic designer at William Blair & Company, 2002-2011; self-employed as multi-media artist, 2012-January 2018; licensed foster parent.

Civic Activities: Working in child welfare and advocacy as a foster parent, and advocating for child and parent reunification and support within the foster care system;  educating foster parents on structural racism within child welfare, racial and cultural literacy in raising children and supporting families of a different race;

educational and medical advocacy for students with special needs, especially those with fewer financial or family supports, to access IEPs and therapeutic treatment; connecting to and building relationships with the under-served populations in the Evanston community through Back on Their Feet, by providing peer-to-peer emergency supports, such as transportation, food access, and infant care; representing the PTA Equity Project in D65, which builds relationships among parents in all D65 schools, seeking equitable funding in schools, and fundraising, so that all D65 students may experience enrichment opportunities at school; equity-auditing policy and process within Oakton elementary school PTA to improve school climate and serve students and parents in an inclusive and equitable way; overhauling PTA vertical structures and creating new roles to bring representative voices to the table in decision making.

What are your top two or three priorities?

My top priorities for serving on the ETHS D202 Board are to continue, with urgency, to address the persistent problem of race predicting outcomes, through auditing curriculum, disciplinary policy, and racial bias within our systems.  I wish to spotlight our students with special needs and IEPs by creating baseline evaluations for academics, analyzing the data, and recommending next steps toward career and independence.  And I will work to expand certifications and dual enrollment with Oakton Community College so that every student leaves ETHS on a career or college path.

What skills do you bring to the table that would make you an effective Board member?

I come to this position as a community member who is intimately aware of the barriers to access and success by our marginalized residents, willing to listen to and amplify their voices to make their needs known. I have extensive training in educational advocacy, trauma-informed care, anti-bias work, and child advocacy.

I believe that serving all of our students should be our top priority, and to have our values as Evanston residents be reflected in our school.  I believe school boards must have diversity in voice and background, with a direct line to the needs of the community in order to be the most successful and ensure that our resources and opportunities are available to all who come through ETHS. My goal is for all students and families to feel equally valued, understood, and served at ETHS, regardless of background or need.

I envision ETHS as being a national model for its work towards educational equity, eliminating bias, and cultivating cultural respect and literacy within the school, and sending our students out into the world, prepared, and ready to spread their knowledge into society.

What are two major decisions that the Board has made in the past two or three years that you agree with, and why?

I support the Board’s decisions around modifying dress codes and expanding mixed honors classes and AP classes, because they are vitally important in the work to remove bias from the educational system, and expand opportunities for all students.  The data, as well as teacher feedback, tells us that this has been beneficial for all and will help us to close the opportunity gap.