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All adults are role models; Sanderson

The third and final General Session started with a large dose of laughter and progressed into a lesson on role modeling.

Vicki Sanderson, who grew up in Country Club Hills, Ill., began by asking the audience to self-select their own personalities. She offered amusing comparisons of the people, as described in various visual shapes of squares, circles, triangles and wavy lines.

"The truth is, we all have some qualities from each personality type, which can lead to a wide variety of expectations," she said.

Sanderson, citing a book she co-wrote, "Life Would be Easy If It Weren't for Other People," said when adults participate in groups such as school boards, "they often model the exact behavior that we don't want (our children) to have."

She suggested that every adult employed by or involved in a school district becomes a role model, whether or not they realize it. "Any adult in the school district, whether you are a board member, administrator, teacher, bus driver, librarian, food service worker, etc., is in a position to be watched. What you say, how you dress and behave will be imitated," she said.

As a former middle school teacher, Sanderson said that teachers need to smile and laugh, and share their personal lives with students. And like students, she said a teacher's behavior and attitude in school parallels their life at home. "And many of them need help in both areas," she said.

Community relations is another source of negative impact. Sanderson said boards should encourage school officials to treat students and parents as customers. "The first thing these people encounter when they enter or call a school is a set of rules. Teachers, administrators and board members are some of the worst P.R. people in the school district.

"Not only do they need to show respect for profession and one another, they need to show pride and be able to say, 'I'm good at what I do.' Fortunately, 85 percent of teachers are good and are in education for the right reasons. But that leaves 500,000 teachers who have no business being in front of kids," she said.

Sanderson said that the most dysfunctional teachers are often put into classrooms to deal with the most dysfunctional students. "Do teachers have a right to have negative attitudes and problems? Of course they do. But not at school," she said. "Teachers can't be expected to be happy and positive all of the time, but they should act as if they are."

She concluded her remarks by suggesting that prospective school board members run for office only if they have no hidden agendas, and only if they are able to take criticism for their decisions.

"You don't represent the people who voted for you; you represent every student who doesn't have a vote," Sanderson said.

Also featured at Sunday's general session:

NSBA president Joan E. Schmidt, introduced by outgoing IASB president Ray Zimmerman, discussed her passion for fine arts education, health, and other non-core curricula that are being reduced or eliminated.

"(These subjects) are being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency," she said. The value of the arts, for example, is in their ability to express "our highest hopes, our deepest grief."

School boards have an obligation to help children grow spiritually and intellectually, physically and emotionally, Schmidt added. "We can't just settle for raising test scores."

Sunday's session also saw the presentation of the annual Thomas Lay Burroughs Award for Outstanding School Board President go to Barbara Somogyi, Elk Grove CCSD 59, Arlington Heights. State Superintendent Randy Dunn and Jesse Ruiz, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, presented the award.

The winning ticket of the Erik Wahl painting that he created in the first general session was also announced Sunday. Ginny McCauley, a board member at Streator ESD 44, held the winning ticket in the raffle that raised $1,961 for the Illinois Statewide School Management Alliance PAC.



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