Diana L. Clopton: 2023 Candidate for Barrington District 220 school board
Town: North Barrington
Age on Election Day: 42
Previous offices held: None
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 School Board because I passionately care about this community. I've observed a cultural divide in our society impacting our community. With the right leadership, we can take steps toward each other rather than farther apart. I want to be a bridge builder to unify and celebrate what's great about our school district. I will partner to find solutions that drive positive community impact. I want develop and equip young people with the skills, intellect, and character to thrive in diverse environments as their life experiences will stretch far beyond our community. I will combine my experience in running large and small brands with my heart for service to drive great impact. I am committed to D220 excellence, exceptional collaboration, and effective communication. I will ensure more voices and stories are included in the district's framework and strategic plans. I'm committed to Academic Excellence, Inclusion, Financial Stewardship, and Strong Community Partnership.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: The School Board's role is to set the vision, mission and policies for the district based on its established values and beliefs, which should leverage community input. The staff is responsible for executing the established vision, mission, and policies while the Board is responsible for governance and holding the staff accountable to meeting the vision and ensuring that the curriculum aligns with Illinois standards. Curriculum falls under staff execution but should always align to the broader vision of the Board, who will be the ultimate approver. Additionally, the Board is responsible for respectfully weighing the concerns of the community against the greater goals of serving all students equitably which includes an incredible opportunity to incorporate inclusive curriculum in which all students see themselves represented.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: I understand the concerns with some of the books available for students within the district. It is my belief that books, materials and curricula in the school district should serve the purpose of supporting the academic, social, and emotional development of the kids in our district at appropriate grade levels. To me, this means ensuring that throughout our curriculum, we are weaving in the stories of all represented in our community and beyond. While celebrating our differences throughout, we have the guardrails in place to ensure the curriculum is age appropriate.
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: As a Board Member, my role would be to research and understand the controversies, listen to all constituents, and provide recommendations based on the aligned vision and mission established for the district and the appropriate parties. As a Board Member, my role would be to be a voice for all students. The decision would always be rooted in what's best for the students in the district and I would strive to make decisions based upon a healthy balance between community feedback and district recommendations. I will always align my decision-making with a "student first" mentality.
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: We've learned many valuable lessons navigating a difficult time with limited information. The most significant lesson was about balancing public safety in times of uncertainty and long-term community impact. One strength is that we have the tools and qualified staff to pivot and leverage technology during times of crisis. We also identified discrepancies in the asynchronous learning. The biggest learning we had was around the varied academic, social and emotional impact on students. Each student was impacted differently and required unique support. As a community, we acknowledge the academic loss and impact to social and emotional development caused during this time. Through trial and error, we've learned how to enact safe, in-person learning environments to protect the health and safety of the community while protecting the long-term student development and leveraging technology only as an enabler. These learnings can be leveraged in order to be prepared for future circumstances.
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: I have diverse experience in developing new processes in organizations. As a leader of countless cross functional teams, I have experience developing innovation and new processes to drive efficiency, performance, and strong consumer experiences. In these settings, I begin by getting to the core problem to solve. Through cross-team collaboration, I work to establish a result that solves the core issue. I always start with the "why" behind the problem, then work with all parties to utilize their diverse perspectives in tackling the problem. Research and personal experience support that having diverse teams with broad experiences and perspectives can lead to stronger outcomes. Bringing a broad set of experiences to the table can activate the strengths of each arm of your team. I believe this approach will be effective because understanding core problems and diverse stakeholder perspectives will allow the board to continue to refine its framework, with the community and staff in mind.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I am a parent in this district and care deeply about the experiences of all our students. As a mother of students that fall into two underrepresented categories, I know how it feels to be dismissed. Conversely, I understand the lifelong value of being heard. I will be a voice for all students in this district. I am passionate about ensuring that our district is one that values academic excellence and inclusion. I have two decades of experience encompassing strong financial management across large and small business, excellent strategic decision-making skills, and a deep history of collaboration and communication. I have years of leadership experience working through the most difficult challenges and leveraging diverse perspectives to not only solve problems, but to drive excellence through innovation. I will bring this holistic approach to solving the most difficult challenges in our district. I love this community, and I want this opportunity to give back to it in a new way.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: I would like to continue to elevate what Inclusion means in our community through our students and our staff. For students, I'd like to see an elevation in inclusion for students with special needs. All students deserve to feel accepted and celebrated. For staff, I'd like to see us develop a strong pipeline of highly qualified talent with diverse experiences and backgrounds reflective of our rapidly changing student demographic. I believe that both objectives will only continue to drive our community closer. It's important for our children to know how to thrive in diverse environments with people of different backgrounds and needs to thrive in the world that extends beyond our community.