2021 First General Session

Joint Annual Conference Reconvenes, Features Entertaining Educator 

Attendees at the 2021 Joint Annual Conference found delight and inspiration in the storytelling of teacher and comedian Joe Dombrowski. Known as Mr. D, the tales from the grade-school classrooms, videos showing creative approach to educating, and kinetic delivery headlined the First General Session. 

Back from a one-year coronavirus hiatus, the Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials celebrated its return with a day full of panel sessions, the Administrative Professionals’ Program, workshops, exhibitors, and meetings including all three sponsoring organizations.  

The day was capped by Dombrowski’s keynote. Mr. D rose to prominence with a viral video of a spelling test prank he played on his students. “Be the Educator You Are” included videos of the DJ/dance stage Dombrowski built in the cafeteria to celebrate students’ good behavior and introduced a student whose independence was developed through the belief that she could. He offered encouragement to take risks, and to understand that no one knows what students need as well as teachers in the classrooms with them. Dombrowski also noted how sharing his classroom stories on social media turned into promotional opportunities and transformed community businesses into school supporters in creative ways. 

Outgoing IASB President Tom Neeley opened the General Session by welcoming board members,  administrators, and guests back to Chicago for the Conference. The Binotti Award for Risk Management was presented by The Sandner Group to Allendale CCSD 17. Also announced at the First General Session were the winners of awards in the annual Exhibition of Educational Environments, sponsored by the IASB Service Associates. The entries from 2021, and those from 2020 when no in-person event was held, were displayed in the main Conference concourse. 

In a morning session at the Administrative Professionals’ Program, the 2021 Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award was presented to Elaine Nicholson of Meridian CUSD 223. The award is presented to an individual, selected from nominations from school districts, on the criteria of performance, initiative, innovation, staff development, self-improvement, passion for public education, and dedication to the district and community. 

“I am proud to work with amazing people who consistently support each other,” Nicholson said. “The time, energy, and thought that goes into these board decisions is so admirable. I am more than lucky; I’m truly blessed by the people I work with.”