Jane A. Russell: 2023 candidate for Township High School District 211 Board of Education

  • Jane A. Russell

    Jane A. Russell

Posted3/15/2023 1:00 AM


Town: Rolling Meadows


Age on Election Day: 73

Occupation: Retired teacher

Employer: N/A

Previous offices held: No government offices


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: Because I am recently retired, I now have the time to devote to this important work. Nothing is more important that the education of the students in our community. I have lived in Rolling Meadows for most of my life and believe giving back to the community is a high priority for me. I have vast experience in education, having taught high school for 34 years and served on many committees/task forces that are federal, state and local, to continuously work to provide the best education for all students, PK-20, in Illinois.

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

A: The Illinois Association of School Boards provides foundation principles for effective governance of school districts. The board delegates authority to the superintendent and staff who are entrusted to run the day-today operations. Curriculum is created by the professional staff with the most up-to-date information available, including curriculum adaptations from law changes. Curriculum is constantly evolving and professional staff must continue to adjust curriculum. The board then reviews to determine if students are progressing in meeting the district/state standards as a result of the course curriculum.

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

A: Not at this time.

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: The role of a board member is to hear and understand issues that constituents may bring forth. There should be a procedure in place so all voices may be heard. Data should be used for accountability purposes. In this way, board policies can be monitored and adjusted to guide board operations. I look for "common ground" to help solve differences. Generally that means that no one is really happy with the outcome, but there is an understanding of what is best for students.

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: A district plan should be in place that includes the latest scientific data and information with guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education, the governor's office, CDC and local health entities, etc. For example, many districts adopted the use of the saliva test to monitor COVID in students and staff. We have learned that as COVID-19 has evolved, district plans need to evolve also to keep students and staff, and ultimately the community, safe.


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 served on leadership teams and executive boards. Communication is imperative. When a policy change was presented, either by me, or others, the time and effort must be given to fully understand how the policy or policy change may affect the organization. If data is available, it should be fully provided in order to help in the decision making. The process may be arduous and "messy." Ultimately, after hearing all sides and exploring the options, a decision is made that is best for the district and its student population.

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

A: I taught high school chemistry for 34 years and have a vast education background, serving on multiple federal, state and local committees/task forces. A few of these are:

Chairing the Reporting Committee of the Professional Review panel (a state legislated task force) of the Illinois State Board of Education, to review and produce a five-year evaluative study of the success of the Evidence Based Funding (EBF) model for schools/districts.

Helped to produce the state Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan under the newest federal law governing education policy.

Helped to build and strengthen the ISBE/IEA/IFT Virtual Instructional Coaching program for mentoring first, second and third year new teachers and clinicians. This is a federally funded program and jointly conducted by all three organizations. This program has been evaluated yearly and the outcome has shown that new

teachers and clinicians remain in education beyond their first years.

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

A: We continue to speak about this, and it is not new, but extremely important to our student population. No matter if I talk with a kindergarten teacher or a high school biology teacher, they both say the same thing. Their students continue to carry the trauma and upheaval in their lives from the last couple of years. Student trauma affects how well they learn, or if they can learn, and their relationships with teachers, family, friends and classmates. Research has shown very clearly that childhood trauma is carried into adulthood. We cannot wait for our students to help themselves. The district must provide mental health services and mental health professionals to all students. All school staff should be trained in the practices of trauma informed instruction. Collectively we can help to diminish student trauma and help them to move forward and be successful in their high school education and beyond.

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