New Trier High School special education coordinator Pat Savage-Williams is running her first campaign for the Evanston Township High School District 202 board. Here are her answers to the questions we posed to every 202 candidate.
1. How long have you lived in Evanston?
2. What elected positions have you held previously, if any? Have you ever run for office before?
I have not held any elected positions previously nor run for office in the past.
Click here for information on the other District 202 candidates.
3. What experience/skills would you bring to the school board from your professional or personal life?
I will bring my perspective as a parent and an educator to the Board of Education. I have 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. Teamwork is the most effective approach to address the complicated issues we face in education today. 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.
4. What do you think are the biggest issues for District 202? How would you address those?
I think the big issues are:
- Budget: As a School Board member, I will be aware and monitor the financial status of the district. I will make decisions that are fiscally responsible while being mindful of the best possible uses of our resources.
- Freshman-level restructured Humanities classes: 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 9th 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, furthermore, 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.
- Freshman-level restructured Biology classes: I support this restructure as well. As stated above, the common assessments assure consistent expectations among teachers with rubrics to provide clear expectations among teachers and students. Students will have access to a rigorous curriculum and opportunities to earn honors credit, thus gain broader options for college admission.
5. What will you do to improve graduation rates and job placement for those students who do not go on to college right away (if at all)?
ETHS's graduation rates in 2012, while well above the state average, could improve. In fact, one of the district's three-year goals is to achieve 100% graduation readiness. However, the fact that the rate for white students (95.4%) is considerably higher than that for students of color (85.5%) makes me think that (1) we need to find out why these students aren't graduating, and (2) we should redouble our efforts in the Career and Technical Ed Dept. to increase the number of workplace readiness and certification programs.
6. What will you do to improve safety in and around ETHS?
We have all been humbled and strongly impacted by the violence that has taken place in our community. At this point, this violence has not come into the school. However, we need to consult with our Administration and Safety head to help us establish policies and procedures that keep our students and staff safe. The City of Evanston has recently agreed to provide a second police officer to work in our school. Our world has changed and practical and effective recommendations for security and crisis preparedness planning are now a necessary part of our school culture. Our current practices as well as suggestions for further school-community collaboration around the prevention and intervention of violence planning must be a high priority for our district.