Janette Hernandez: 2023 candidate for West Chicago Elementary District 33 board
Town: West Chicago
Age on Election Day: 34
Occupation: Assistant to the funeral director
Employer: Norris Segert Funeral Home
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 because I feel the board of education needs to be a reflection of the diversified community. As a proud lifetime resident of West Chicago, I have seen the community grow and prosper.
Working at District 94 as an administrative assistant for student services, I was keen to experience a lot of the unheard concerned voices. This has motivated me to be the voice for those concerned parents and guardians that have a language barrier in our community. I know I can be the voice for that single parent who has questions and concerns but does not have the availability to talk to someone during the day. I am a proud Hispanic who understands the cultural views and the values that our hard working previous generations have lived by. I am in the community, I am a parent of the community, I understand our community and I wish to serve our community.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: Based on my experience at District 94 and having the privilege to speak with teachers and staff within our community, I am a firm believer that the board members role is to encourage creativity through monitoring the curriculum.
With our students different teaching methods; each teacher should feel empowered to set the curriculum in partnership with the principal as they will make the most impact on their perspective classes. When we look at the amount of time teachers spend with their students, they get to know the students and see each student's needs.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: Although technology has progressed and evolved in all our daily lives. As I reflect I believe students need to have more time to experience the benefits of education with simple pen and paper. Not having an autocorrect feature that notifies you when something is misspelled, having to sound out a word would provide the challenge some of our students need.
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 way that I view the boards role in confronting policy or curriculum controversies is simple. We must be comfortable being uncomfortable. First, we must acknowledge the confronting policy or curriculum controversies. Second, the impact it is having on the students, staff, and community. Lastly, have a discussion on how we can move forward for the benefit of the students, staff, and community. My goal is to work together and discuss those uncomfortable topics that need to be brought up.
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: As a West Chicago resident I feel proud to say that we have a hard working community that has overcome some of these unforeseen obstacles. We must continue to operate in a safe environment as set by our local health experts recommendations. The safety of the students, staff, and community is and will always be a top priority. We must definitely consider and acknowledge safety concerns, but must do everything we can to keep our students in a in-person school environment. That us without saying that we must also do our best to empower our administrative leaders to equip our frontline teachers and aides to with readily available technology to provide the impactful educational experience whether in a physical or virtual setting.
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: During my tenure at District 94, I was fortunate to participate in the negotiating team and learned first hand the importance of acknowledging and discussing topics; while considering all ramifications. We discussed the pros and cons of our decisions. We made decisions that were positive for the community, staff and students.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: As a proud member of the community but my tenure at District 94 as an administrative assistant for student services provided me with the unfiltered truth of some of the gaps in communication between school board, community, staff and students.
I witnessed countless families within the community not being aware of the resources available and feeling voiceless. These interactions have motivated me to see the importance of having our local school board be a reflection of the community it serves and understanding of the cultural backgrounds. I am committed to do my contribution to be part of the school board that will fill in those communication gaps that need to be filled.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: My idea is intended to encourage parents to be more involved in present student academics. My idea is in collaborating and supporting a volunteer group that provides educational guidance to parents on what they can do now to early on in elementary to ensure a path to college and university. We would discuss educational milestones, financial milestones and or athletic milestones.
The community has had some great success stories and being able to share that with the community would benefit the overall community, staff and students.