The Illinois Association of School Boards
Second General Session
Joan Lunden advocates life-long learning
Television journalist Joan Lunden told a large crowd at the Second General Session on Saturday that it is important for adults to let children know about the challenges in today’s world.
“We tend to solve problems for them, rather than let them figure it out for themselves,” she stated. But problem solving is an essential skill, and life-long learning has become a necessity, she said.
Lunden’s mention of her two sets of twins got one of the loudest rounds of applause during her speech, a fact she noted, stating: “covering five presidents never seems to get as much applause as having had seven kids.”
Lunden, known to millions for co-anchoring ABC’s Good Morning America in the ’80s and ’90s, said that as a child in California she pondered becoming a doctor, like her father, Erle Blunden, a cancer surgeon who died in a plane crash when she was 13.
A breast cancer diagnosis in 2014, however, became a “full-circle moment.” She had long since decided she would never be a doctor, but she could inspire others to join the fight against breast cancer. And she announced to the large crowd that she personally is “one hundred percent cured.”
Before Lunden’s keynote address, Jennifer Hermes, Illinois ASBO president, said the school management profession is well served by that organization’s wide range of professional development activities, services and advocacy.
Hermes, who is a business official with Lake Forest SD 67, also introduced the two recipients of this year’s Lighthouse Award, John Fuhrer, Director of Operations, Facilities and Transportation, North Shore SD 112; and Scott R. Mackall, Assistant Director of Operations and Facilities, North Shore SD 112.
Also at the Saturday general session, IASB President Phil Pritzker introduced IASB past presidents: Joseph Alesandrini, 2010-11; Carolyne D. Brooks, 2012-2013; Christy Coleman, 2002-2003; Jerald Eiffert, 1999-2000; Nancy Elson, 1990-1991; Karen Fisher, 2013-14; Jonathan T. Howe, 1978-1979; Joan Levy, 1984-85; Dennis McConville, 2001-2002; Mark Metzger, 2008-2009; Robert Reich, 1992-1993; Marie Slater, 2006-2007; Jay Tovian, 1996-1998; and Barbara Wheeler, 1988-1989.
Acknowledged with them were IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy, along with Michael D. Johnson, who served as the Association’s executive director from 2000 to 2012.
Lunden began her remarks by sharing vivid stories from behind-the-scenes struggles in making a path in the male-dominated field of TV journalism during the 1970s. She provided insights on the need to persevere, grab opportunities, and continue to learn and work in concert with a team.
Specifically, she shared recollections of starting out in journalism by taking a job as one of San Diego’s first female weather reporters. When offered the job, she admits, she was not even remotely interested in weather, but she knew she would always be interested in opportunities.
“Sometimes we must risk not being great to learn how to really be great,” Lunden said.
One day, after seven months working behind the scenes on the weather desk, her boss called in sick and informed her “you’re on.”
She performed well enough to later get an offer from the station to become its consumer reporter. She says she replied, “Sure, I can do a report every night,” even though at the time, she now admits, she had doubts.
But that opportunity led her to another opportunity, to write, produce, and deliver the noon news. She advises that “whenever anyone asks if you can do something, just say yes.”
“Never underestimate the power of a positive attitude,” she added.
But Lunden eventually left the evening news desk in San Diego to take a job with WABC in New York as a street reporter, covering fires and murders. “There is merit in learning from the ground up,” she explained, admitting she knew she needed more real-world training and experience.
Speaking of today’s challenges while raising twin middle- schoolers, London said protecting non-work time is vital. “Children notice when we are tuned into our world, and are looking at our cell phones, for example, rather than at them.”
Children have the same problem turning off devices and tuning in to others, as they typically worry about the consequences of how they are viewed by their peers on Snapchat, for example. “Kids need to develop interpersonal skills in face-to-face encounters instead, because this develops business skills,” she suggested.
Children ultimately need to learn to become lifelong learners and Risk Takers, she suggested, and it is her hope for everyone to find passion in their own education and experience.
Lunden quoted poet William Butler Yeats’ great aphorism, “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”
“Someone once said that our two greatest days are the day we are born and the day we find out why,” she added.
After her remarks, a line of more than 100 people waited to meet Lunden outside the conference bookstore, to take selfies and to get autographs of her latest book, “Had I Known: A Memoir of Survival.”
2016 Conference Menu