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Past presidents mark continuity of Association

Any conference that continues for 73 consecutive years has a history of tradition and memories shared by those who were part of its earlier eras.

That tradition was upheld again in 2005 as past presidents of IASB, also known as the "Old Goat's Club," gathered for a special luncheon and dinner on Saturday. As usual at these formal affairs, members of the club rose one by one, and each spoke eloquently about the history, direction, and past and present leadership of IASB.

George Wirth, New Athens CUSD 60, IASB president 1970-71, said the older past presidents may not be able to contribute to the future, but they can reveal the past.

He noted that the past presidents' dinner replaced the annual banquet, a major gala that highlighted the Joint Annual Conference years ago. He recalled a list of special speakers that drew large numbers in attendance: Lowell Thomas, Everett Dirksen, David Brinkley, Art Linkletter, and Jack Anderson, among others.

"I treasure the memories and quality of friendships found within the Association. Thank you for your contributions," he said.

Ed Epstein, Crete-Monee CUSD 201-U, IASB president 1972-73, promised to "fill in some of the blanks that George left out," but credited both Wirth and his predecessor, the late Robert Jamieson, Peoria SD150, IASB president 1969, for coming up with many of the proposals for change in the 1970s.

"Before that, it was the Dark Ages," he quipped.

Those changes, Epstein said, helped to establish priorities for the Association and led to development of written board policies, bargaining assistance, and working more closely with state lawmakers.

"I'm thrilled to be part of this group," he said, adding that all of the past presidents appreciated having their wives or husbands invited to the occasion.

Wayne Sampson, Morton CUSD 709, IASB president 1986-87, and who later served as IASB executive director, said what he missed most about his time with the Association was the people. "I still get excited when I hear what the staff is doing and introducing," he said.

Barbara Wheeler, Downers Grove GSD 58, IASB president 1988-89, said the dinner was a way to show the continuity of the Association. "Some of the problems we were working on when I was first elected in 1974 are the same ones boards deal with now," she noted. "(Although) I didn't want to go to my first past presidents' dinner, now I wouldn't miss it."

Nancy Elson, Canton Union SD 66, IASB president 1990-91, agreed that some education issues never change. She suggested that perhaps that is result of state lawmakers "who just don't get it."

Robert Reich, Bourbonnais SD 53, IASB president 1992-93, said the individuals here "were an accumulation of all people and events in our lives….and this organization has always been about people."

Jerald Eiffert, Mt. Zion CUSD 3, IASB president 1999-2000, suggested that the newer presidents were fortunate to follow the path formed by their predecessors. "I have followed everyone's footsteps…They have lighted the way," he said.

Dennis McConville, Dimmick CCSD 175, IASB president 2001, offered a toast to the group, and remarked that Wirth was attending his 50th conference.

Christy Coleman, Geneseo CUSD 228, IASB president 2002-03, said she was pleased to be one of the newer "old goats" and recalled the work that led to introduction of the Carver governance model into the IASB governing principles.

Ray Zimmerman, Flanagan CUSD 4, IASB president 2004-05, said that while some of the problems and issues remain the same, board members should take comfort in knowing that "kids have done well, and we should be proud of what we have done."

Also speaking were newly-installed IASB president Marie Slater, vice president Mark Metzger, executive director Michael Johnson, assistant to the executive director Pat Culler, NSBA president Joan Schmidt, along with staff members from the Hyatt Regency Chicago, where the Joint Annual Conference has been held for the past 19 years.



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