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IASB JOINT ANNUAL CONFERENCE


Thomas Lay Burroughs Award Winner

A long-time suburban school board member was honored as this year's Thomas Lay Burroughs Award winner at the 2008 Joint Annual Conference.

Joanne Zendol, Berwyn South SD 100 board president, reflected on a 20-year career serving a district of 3,900 students, with 400 staff, in eight schools. Her comments echoed what many board members face throughout Illinois: overcrowding, low-income and ESL populations, students being raised by single parents or grandparents, periodic crisis and tragedies, older buildings, lack of funds, etc.

"We keep doing what we do best – teach children – just like you do. Just like Mr. Burroughs and many of you, we do what we do to make public education the best it can be with what we have and have to deal with. It's all about children first."

The Burroughs award is given annually to recognize outstanding public school board presidents. ISBE created the award in 1991 to honor the late Thomas Lay Burroughs, who served as chairman of the State Board of Education and the Board of Education for the Collinsville School District. The award recognizes extraordinary educational leadership at the local level, including leadership:

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

ISBE board chairman Jesse Ruiz presented Zendol with this year's prize, noting that she also helped to start the South Berwyn Education Foundation, which has raised more than $625,000 in 18 years.

Zendol, who is also known for her sense of humor, thanked her board and school staff, and her family. She lamented the absence of one daughter, who had to work that weekend at Macy's because it's the busiest sales weekend of the year.

"But this is the biggest award, Julie," she joked.

Zendol, who also serves on the IASB board of directors, representing the West Cook division, referred to board membership as "servant leadership."

"I love what I do…we all do, or we wouldn't be here," she said.

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