Lauren Duddles: 2023 candidate for St. Charles Unit District 303 board, 4-year term
Town: St. Charles
Age on Election Day: 46
Occupation: Student Success Advisor
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 worked as a community organizer on Rep. Lauren Underwood's 2022 campaign. I really enjoyed building connections and serving the community. It inspired me to get involved and serve my community. Running for school board felt like a great way to do that.
The issue that I'm motivated by is mental health advocacy for our students. We have been experiencing a mental health crisis in the last couple years, and I feel that we should be doing more to support our students.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: I am a former educator, and in my experience, the curriculum was set by the department chair and the teachers. The school board sets the overall vision and learning targets for the students, and approves the curriculum and the budget.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: No, I don't. I have two daughters that have attended D303 schools for the last 6 years and don't have issues with the curriculum.
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 very passionate about my viewpoints, and can provide leadership, even if unpopular. However, if I am elected, my role as a board member is to work for the students. I will always put what is best for the students first, and am willing to listen to anyone that is advocating for the 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: The safety and well-being of the students always come first. We have to make decisions that ensure student safety, even if they are unpopular. We learned that it is important to listen to all viewpoints, so people in the community feel heard. However, it is impossible to please everyone, and sometimes tough decisions need to be 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: Although I have yet to determine policy, I have collaborated in many group settings to come up with curriculum, lesson planning and finding best practices for supporting students. I come to the table with several ideas, and listen to all ideas presented.
After hearing all the ideas, I try to find common ground, or ways to combine several of the plans that best support the issues in question.
I will be effective because I would come to the table with my own ideas, but eager to listen to everyone's ideas and come up with solutions by collaborating.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: As a mother, I have children with mental health issues and am passionate about being a mental health advocate for the students of D303.
As a teacher, I worked with the district's most academically and behaviorally challenging students as well as the brightest AP and honors students. It is important to me to be an advocate for ALL students.
In addition to my advocacy, I am a strategic problem solver. I use creative thinking and collaboration to solve problems.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: I would like to implement mental health "minutes" into the school day. An allotted time (weekly or biweekly/10-20 minutes in the school day) for meditation, mindfulness, and other activities to decrease stress and anxiety in the school day.