This week in the times: Week of Jan. 26-Feb. 1, 2011

Rockford Board of Education candidate profile:

Jane Hayes, Sub District C

Editor’s note: In the coming weeks, The Rock River Times will dedicate this space to profiles of the 10 candidates for the Rockford Board of Education in the April 5 election. The first profile appeared in the Jan. 5-11 issue. Four of the seven seats on the board are up for re-election: Sub District B, represented by Jeanne Westholder; Sub District C, represented by Alice Saudargas; Sub District E, represented by Bob Evans; and Sub District G, represented by Board President David Kelley. Kelley is not seeking re-election. By sub district, the candidates include: Sub District B – Westholder and Tim Rollins; Sub District C – Saudargas, Jane Hayes, Ken Scrivano and Mickey Simmons; Sub District E – Evans is unopposed; and Sub District G – Toby Kellogg, Laura Powers and Bill Neblock.

Vitals: Jane Hayes, 63, has lived in Rockford for 42 years and has raised her children, Sarah, James, and David, here. Hayes is a former public educator running for election in Sub District C. She is a Golden Apple Academy member, has been listed in Who’s Who in American Educators several times, and was chosen as one of the top 10 teachers of Illinois in the Those Who Excel program.

1. What factors motivated you to run for the Board of Education seat in your sub district? As a retired teacher, I understand how essential it is to have a world-class education, which instills lifelong learning, ensures productivity, and creates good citizenship. As part of the Watchdogs for Ethics in Education (WEE), I am determined to pursue accountability of the school board and leadership in District 205. If elected, I hope to encourage better communication and accountability among stakeholders.

2. What experiences – work-related or otherwise – do you feel would help you succeed as a Board of Education member? Having taught grades 6-12, and various subjects such as science, language arts, English, speech, drama, English as a Second Language (ESL), and French has given me the background of teaching a variety of subjects. I have often addressed different learning styles and needs in the classroom, have written numerous grants, and have been the coordinator of an ESL/bilingual program at a nearby school district. Enriching my students’ lives beyond the classroom (through field trips, speakers, and holistic learning experiences) and engaging them in the classroom (through technology, the arts, and cross-curricular studies) have been personal strengths. Also, I have taught teachers how to implement technology in their classrooms. Being part of WEE has made me keenly aware of problems throughout the district which need rectifying. I hope to make a difference by fostering education that will strengthen our community, not divide it.

3. If elected, what changes would you push for immediately? The school board and administration need to be more open to the public and responsible in leadership decisions. We need to be inclusive of the stakeholders in public education: the students, staff, parents and taxpayers. Being an agent of change is meaningless unless change is progressive, productive and reflects the best interests of stakeholders. If elected, I would push for a more open venue for community involvement at board meetings rather than the current cramped board room, which excludes too many people from the democratic process. I also would expect accountability and transparency in budget matters and leadership decisions. Board members are elected to be public servants and need to act accordingly.

4. What should District 205 parents and students know about your educational philosophy? Public education should ensure equal opportunities, but students must earn their successes and learn from their failures. We need to hold people accountable for their actions instead of overlooking problems that only escalate. Students need a safe environment to attend classes where consequences are given for disrespect and poor behavior. Education should be driven by the needs of students and staff, not the current data-driven debacle. We need to highlight the arts in education and school-to-work opportunities for those who are not college bound. One of my heroes is Harry S. Truman who said, “America was not built on fear but on courage, on imagination and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” Being elected to Rockford’s school board is an immense responsibility and often a thankless one, but one that is essential to the future of public education in our community.

5. Question from the previous Board of Education candidate profile, Alice Saudargas: What impact would you have on curriculum if elected? If elected, I would hope to be part of the education committee of the board and an adviser on the instructional council, which recommends changes in curriculum. My strength has been cross-curricular because I have taught so many subjects. I have always been an advocate of professional development of teachers so they can implement the latest technology and standards in their classrooms. However, board members and administration cannot make decisions behind closed doors that broadly impact students, staff and parents without listening to public concerns first.

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