Yannick Koger: 2023 candidate for Glen Ellyn Elementary District 89 board, 4-year term


Town: Wheaton

Age on Election Day: 38

Occupation: Marketing science partner

Employer: Meta

Previous offices held: Appointed to Glen Ellyn District 89 board in 2021


Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?

A: I am running for re-election to the CCSD 89 school board because I have a deep appreciation for public education as an institution and the benefits it bestows to the entire community.

I would not say a single issue motivated me to seek my appointment in 2021 or to seek re-election. Rather, a principled focus on providing an excellent education and affording every single student the most ample opportunity to become the best version of themselves in our district.

Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?

A: The role of the school board is to approve curriculum, textbooks, and educational services for the students in our district. The school board should regularly hear updates on how the curriculum is, or is not, meeting the needs of students to achieve academic success. The school board also ensures that the curriculum remains dynamic and responsive to needs of a 21st century education.

Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?

A: The curriculum issue I am most focused on at this time is ensuring that we continually update outdated curriculum. After listening to the needs of teachers and administrators, we worked closely with our administration to update the math curriculum at the elementary level.

We also approved an updated English Language Arts curriculum for elementary students in January 2023. Our next focus will be on the middle school curriculum.

Taking a rotational approach to curriculum updates has helped keep the change management requirement for teachers at an acceptable level, but also provide them with the best materials possible to teach our students.

Q: How do you view your role in confronting policy or curriculum controversies: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents - even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?

A: I would not take a singular approach, but would understand the interplay between them and lead through any controversy accordingly. I welcome any and all voices to share their opinion on matters in our community. Reading community members' emails and listening to public comments in board meetings is an integral part of gathering information to inform my opinions.

When state authorities are involved, we need to avoid breaking laws as a board, as it could put taxpayer money at risk for lawsuits. Fiscal responsibility is core to how I operate as a board member, so I would weigh this accordingly.

Finally, after listening to community members' perspectives, consulting law experts, and reviewing all facts and data, I would synthesize the information into a principled perspective. I believe it is important to serve the community in this manner to make sure all factors are thoughtfully considered.

Q: Concerns are growing regarding a new resurgence of the pandemic. If another massive outbreak of infectious disease occurs, what have we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that will guide your decision making?

A: Since the last two global pandemics of COVID-19's scale were 101 years apart, I truly hope we will not have to deal with such an issue for quite some time.

However, there are things we can learn from past events. One of the key things I learned is to have an adaptable policy that reflects the conditions on the ground. Adaptable policy helps to proactively respond to rapidly changing safety conditions.

This increases the likelihood of more in-person learning, as safely as possible, for all our students. We have seen that optimizing for in-person learning has been beneficial to students, parents, teachers and administrators.

The COVID-19 pandemic showed us the importance of relying on sound information. Incorporating guidance and recommendations from experts is critical to creating an effective pandemic response policy. Ultimately, board members need to weigh all the points of evidence to inform their decisions, decide on a course of action, and abide by the decisions made.

Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage school district policy? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your school board.

A: As a newly appointed board member in December 2021, I learned a tremendous amount about how board decision-making differs from other decision-making. Board decisions are made collectively, weighing every member's voice. My approach is to thoughtfully consider and openly discuss all board members' perspectives surrounding a decision.

Throughout the process I determine how various decisions may impact students, teachers, administrators, and the community. Hopefully the community has been able to observe that I am a thorough, reasonable, and thoughtful board member.

As an analytics professional, I discern facts and opinions well, as well as communicate complex concepts in a straightforward manner. That strength in communication has been effective in getting board work done efficiently and it is a strength I will rely on if re-elected.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: The school board unanimously appointed me in 2021 after thorough vetting. I believe this is a strong indication that my strengths align to what is needed in a successful school board member. I consider public education an integral part of my success and wish to do my part to help students attain their own version of success within our school district.

My analytical background helps me objectively serve the district, understand our district's data, and solve tough problems. My proximity to the technology industry gives me unique insight on how educational experiences and environments may need to shift to meet the needs of future students.

Lastly, my passion for making a positive difference in my family's community makes me an ideal candidate to continue serving on CCSD89's school board.

Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?

A: Although this is not currently affecting our district, I am concerned that in the future, the widespread teacher shortage may impact our ability to attract and retain top teaching talent. We could research innovative ways to help teachers grow into their careers and increase retention.

Taking a proactive approach would help us avoid a teacher shortage in our district and maintain the high quality of teachers that we have today.

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