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Brian Waitkus earns Burroughs Award

Brian Waitkus, president of the LaSalle Elementary District 122 Board of Education, was honored by the Illinois State Board of Education with the 2006 Thomas Lay Burroughs Award for the state's Outstanding School Board President. The award was presented on Sunday, Nov. 19, during the Third General Session of the Joint Annual Conference.

"The award this year goes to Brian Waitkus for his excellent work over his 16 years of service on his local school board, including 10 years as board president. Brian earned this award by leading by example, including attaining Master Board Member status while missing only two board meetings in 16 years," said Illinois State Superintendent Randy Dunn in presenting the award.

"His leadership was instrumental in winning for the district two successful referenda in the late '90's. Local schools and the district itself have excelled under this board president."

Waitkus has previously represented the Starved Rock division as a director on the Illinois Association of School Boards. He is currently the division chairman.

LaSalle Elementary District 122 includes both a grade school and a junior high school, with a total enrollment of 875 students. The district has won significant awards recently, including: The Center on Innovation and Improvement Award, from the U.S. Department of Education (2001-Present), and the Spotlight School Award (2005-2006), from the Illinois State Board of Education.

Waitkus expressed surprise when accepting the award, stating "I knew I had been nominated, but I thought there was no way I would win this award. I thought, there are hundreds of board presidents out there who do an excellent job of leading their local boards and school districts. Well, this award is for all of you."

He then thanked district Superintendent Joan McGuire, and the school principals and board members of District 122 for their support. He also thanked the State Board of Education, the Illinois Association of School Boards, State Superintendent Dunn, "and, most of all, my wife for her support as she stood by me all those times when I went out the door to attend to board business."

Named after the late state board chairman, Thomas Lay Burroughs, the award was created in 1991 and is presented annually. The award criteria are:

  • leadership on behalf of improved student learning and educational excellence;
  • leadership on behalf of equal educational opportunities; and
  • leadership in resolving a crisis or major difficulty.

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