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First General Session sets the Tone

The tone for the 77th Joint Annual Conference was set at the First General Session. It was lively, colorful and responsive. And packed.

Mark C. Metzger, outgoing president of the Illinois Association of School Boards, led the event. He noted how many districts throughout Illinois he has visited in his two term tenure and said that school districts everywhere share the same problems. "They just change by size and scope," he said.

Attention was also given to four individuals who are believed to be the current longest-serving board members in Illinois. They included Vincent Bugarin, Niles ESD 71, in northern Cook County (41 years); Don Choate, Jonesboro CCSD 43, in Union County (42 years); David Frimel, Odin ESD 122, in Marion County (44 years), and John Vancil, DuQuoin CUSD 300 and a previous district that merged into it, in Perry County (50 years).

Choate and Vancil were on hand for a standing ovation.

The event was opened by the posting of colors, presented by the Phoenix Military Academy, Chicago. This was followed by the "Star Spangled Banner," sung acapella by Nequa Valley High School Men's Ensemble, directed by James Rimington.

C.H. "Sonny" Savoie, NSBA president and a long-time school board member from St. Charles Parish, La., also welcomed the capacity crowd to Chicago.

As trustees for the school district, he said board members must respect one another and act with honesty, integrity and accountability, and "be a good team player."

He also encouraged local board members to become active in their state and national school board associates, to build a collective advocacy on all public education issues. "We are at the table on all the important national issues," he said of NSBA. "But if you don't actively represent your constituents, who will?"

Award presentations

Several awards were presented at the First General Session, including the Risk Management/David Binotti Award, presented on behalf of her late husband by Joanne Binotti. This year's winner for showing "a commitment to risk management and loss control through the Workers' Compensation Self Insurance Trust" was Rock Falls SD 13.

Before the Award of Distinction was presented on behalf of the IASB Service Associates, a flashy DVD reviewed nine of the winning entries in the juried Exhibition of Educational Environments. This year's winning project, school district and designer were the UNO Charter School Veterans Memorial, Chicago School District 299, and the architectural firm, dbHMS.

Russ Middleton, chairman of the exhibit jury, presented the award to Juan Rangle, chief operating officer of UNO, and Sachin Anand, principal of the dbHMS firm.

Entertaining featured speaker

It didn't take long for the keynote speaker to set the stage for his remarks. Jason Dorsey established immediately that he was speaking to the generation gap between himself and most of the audience.

At times mocking but mostly with genuine affection, Dorsey pointed out the major differences and potential conflicts among the four active generations. He acknowledged that his "Generation Y" was not as responsible as previous generations.

"We are five years older than you were when you were hired at your first job, so when you can't understand us, it's because our perspective is so much different than yours," he said.

Defining a generation as "a group of people born around the same time and raised about the same way," Dorsey said there are obvious clues to the differences. They include parent trends, technology, economy, formal education, and life span.

His most humorous remarks centered on the tech-savvy and tech-challenged differences between generations, and used his own father who was born in 1952 as an example.

Dorsey said Generation Y is the first generation that has no expectation of lifetime employment or careers. "Our job expectation is 13 months. For us, it's not about how long you worked, but how hard you worked at your job," he said.

He also attributed the entitled attitude of his generation to their parents, i.e., Baby Boomers, who have not held their children responsible for their actions or future. "Entitlement is a 100 percent learned behavior. We weren't born that way; we were raised that way," he scolded.

Dorsey did recommend several things to help bring the generations together, especially in the workplace.

Make their first day at work unforgettable; send a thank-you card to their parents; tell them that we can do better; help them to picture themselves as successful.

"It's the littlest things you do that make the biggest difference," he said.

2009 Conference Menu


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