New Board Member: Ileana Saveley

Congrats to Ileana Saveley!!

re: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2012-04-16/champaign-school-board-chooses-ileana-saveley.html,  http://www.champaignschools.org/news/news_view.php?action=view&news_type=press_release&id_news=350

As Pattsi and others have said, this was a win/win situation for me. I am glad to have been stretched by this experience – the many hours of practicing in front of a camera really paid off. I have heard some very wise constructive crticisms which have also helped me.

But over and above all else, I met new people who have a passion for the school district. That was huge in and of itself. I have already emailed all the candidates and spoken to many of them personally about continuing the excellent conversations we were having (“around the table”, as it were). In Laurie Bonnett’s closing statement, she challenged each of us to stay involved/active with Unit 4. In my email to the group, I reiterated that challenge. I would hate to loose the energy and excitement we shared together and I really want to roll it forward.

After taking advantage of getting to know the lady to my right (Ileana), I was really glad that she was chosen as the next Board Member. I honestly think she is an excellent choice and am very happy for her.

So, an account of the Public Candidate Forum. It was run very much like a “normal” Regular Board meeting with a small, special agenda (and no executive session at 5:30). Comments were accepted from CFT, CEFT, the Council and the Public. One gentleman (Marcel Miller, I think) asked why the decision would be made in closed session and urged the Board to think outside the box and focus on minorities. I believe the Board did exactly that.

Then we launched into the interview process; each member had one minute to deliver an opening statement, 3 minutes each to answer 4 questions posed by the Board, and finally one minute to close. The “one minute” on either end was rather loose, but the 3 minutes were rather strict (for good reasons).  We were asked about identifying district issues, promoting learning environments, gains made during the Consent Decree and the role of community members.

Here are some notes I took; my point in highlighting these things are just to demonstrate what struck out to me, and I’ll refer to folks by their last name for brevity and simplicity – please feel free to add your own comments.

  • Savage spoke to the need to show the children love and concern, to kind of wrap them up in a nurturing environment.
  • Alissia, a former social worker, spoke about the communities need to be involved, calling the students our children. She also mentioned the need provide an environment where children are loved and accepted.
  • Ileana talked about communication barriers and how some minorities do not feel a part of the larger community.
  • Frye mentioned the need to keep kids in school as long as possible to extremes.

Apologies to the other candidates – I was a bit nervous and didn’t jot down every thought I had. 🙂

Notice a theme at all? The theme I noticed was that of focusing on relationships, of having connections with other people (community + students). I am thinking that relationships are going to be the building blocks of a successful education and community. So while I was hammering home my three-legged stool of communication, trust and climate, I started my closing with the acknowledgement of the need for sincere relationships. Which are messy, by the way.

I cannot express how valuable the “miscellaneous” conversations were. While talking with Ileana afterward, Patricia joined us and we shared how awesome it would be to do something whereby we keep asking these questions and carry on the conversations. I got to know not only the candidates better, but also members of the audience (and I saw other candidates doing the same thing). I just love that part of a meeting – the “un-meeting” if you will.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support us. Thanks to the Board for this opportunity.

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