Amy B. Johnson: 2023 candidate for Medinah Elementary District 11 school board


Town: Roselle

Age on Election Day: 48

Occupation: High School Teacher and Reading Specialist

Employer: Lyons Township High School District 204

Previous offices held: n/a


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: Schools are the cornerstone of a community and play such a vital role in so many aspects of a community's success. I recognize this importance and wish to contribute what I can to our schools. As a parent, I'm motivated to give of my time to support the educational mission of the district. As an educator, I believe I have knowledge and experience that will help guide the direction of Medinah's educational program. As a community resident, I am proud of the reputation that Medinah School District 11 holds, and I am eager to do my part to sustain the district's impact on students, families and the wider community.

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

A: I believe that a school board serves as an intermediary between state bodies and schools when it comes to setting and monitoring curriculum. A school board member should understand any curricular mandates and determine how to apply local control to meet the needs of the Medinah students and faculty. It is critical that school board members familiarize themselves with best practices so that they can partner with the faculty in the education process. School boards should empower the faculty as educational experts and provide the resources they need to ensure success for all students.

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

A: I would like to see the Medinah schools offer world language classes in order to be in line with neighboring districts. Offering world language instruction (at the middle school level at least) can give students an advantage upon entering high school that can lead to an advantage in college. Additionally, many of the content specialists were reassigned during the pandemic to reduce class sizes. I would like to see the specialists return to their pre-pandemic roles in order to meet the needs of students who require supports or differentiation that are not always possible in the classroom.

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 am adept at working with others, even when our perspectives, motivations or points of view are different. In order for a school board member to be effective, they must offer their constituents an opportunity to be heard. I welcome all opinions, even if they are different from my own. All parents want what is best for their children; remembering that should ground a school board member's approach to governance. I firmly believe that, in almost all situations, consensus is possible if the stakeholders respect each other, even when they disagree fundamentally.

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: The old adage "Hindsight is 20/20" has probably never been more applicable than it is to the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe that the Medinah SD 11 school board, administration, faculty and staff did an excellent job of pivoting in order to keep the students in school as much as was possible given the dearth of information with which they were often working. I think that gathering as much data and as many resources as possible is key as board members should always be learning and researching best practices. It is also imperative that board members seek input from all stakeholders. Our experiences as parents, families and students were so varied during the pandemic for myriad reasons- hearing from others about their different needs and perspectives broadens one's world view and helps an elected board member truly represent their constituents.

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: My leadership style is a democratic one in which I seek input from all stakeholders and work to reach consensus. In my teacher role, I've served on almost every single committee my school has ever convened, so I have proven that I can work collaboratively with others, even when we are grappling with issues that are contentious. As a member of our teacher association's negotiations team, I solicit input from nearly 300 faculty members, develop a comprehensive proposal and then interface with district administration and the local board of education. The 12 years I've spent working with my school's administration and board of education to reach mutual agreement across all aspects of a comprehensive faculty contract have prepared me to undertake the position of school board member myself. I am able to see all sides of an issue, which is crucial when making decisions and setting district policy.

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

A: I am the best candidate for the job due to my extensive and varied experiences. I have been a teacher and an instructional leader for nearly 30 years, so I fully grasp all of the inner workings of a school- from the curriculum to the facilities to the finances to the sports and activities. As a parent, I understand our innate, communal desire to help our students succeed. As a community member, I understand the need for the school district to be both fiscally healthy and fiscally responsible. I am fully aware of what being a board member entails, and I have the skills, the enthusiasm and the experience to represent all of our families and community members in this role.

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

A: Student performance on the state-mandated SAT has decreased in Illinois and nationwide. There are a number of factors that contribute to this trend, and we need to examine the various elements of student progress to determine how we can make necessary changes. As a classroom teacher, an instructional coach and the coordinator of my school's SAT preparation program, I have insight and experience to share that will promote success on the SAT as well as other standardized assessments. Because our K-8 district lays the foundation for student success at the high school level, we must be proactive in our approaches to ensure students are prepared for what they will encounter after they leave our schools.

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