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'Mindsight' Helps Boards see Possibilities

If school board members use their "mindsight" instead of just their eyesight, they will be able to imagine more of the options and possibilities for their districts.

That was the message from Steve Soebel at the 2009 Joint Annual Conference as he kept his audience laughing as well as thinking during the closing session on Sunday.

Soebel challenged board members to be ruthless with their time, gracious with people and to continually maintain a sense of humor. His humor contained a large dose of what he called "mental fertility," with examples from proverbs rewritten by children … like "Don't bite the hand that looks dirty" and "You can't teach an old dog new math."

Soebel gave out a number of awards, including one to an administrative assistant from Waverly for explaining how to use the one-cup coffee maker in his hotel room. Earlier he had cited school secretaries and administrative assistants as "the real power brokers of education."

A former principal at a school for disturbed children, Soebel said he and his staff always imagined each child as wearing an invisible necklace that read: Make me feel special.

"Words are very powerful," he added. "They're like toothpaste … once you squeeze them out, you can't put them back in."

Prior to Soebel's rollicking romp through proverbs and thought provoking messages, three different leadership awards were presented for outstanding service.

IASBO award
Roger Eddy, superintendent of Hutsonville CUSD 1 and a third-term member of the Illinois House of Representatives for District 109, received the Illinois Association of School Business Officials' Executive Director's Distinguished Service Award for his loyalty and dedicated service to that association.

"Our work is going to be even more difficult this year," Eddy said in accepting the award, "but it can be fixed with input from you."

Eddy challenged school officials to redouble their efforts in facing the economic challenges ahead and to keep in contact with their legislators. "We need your help," he added.

Burroughs Award
Fred Huddlestun, who has served 14 years on the Jasper County CUSD 1 board of education, was named the Outstanding School Board President for 2009 by the Illinois State Board of Education.

Huddlestun, who has served that entire time as his board president, received the Thomas Lay Burroughs Award and was acknowledged for his long-time service as well as for his leadership in numerous areas.

"As a team we've accomplished a lot," Huddlestun said as he accepted his award from Dr. Christopher Ward, ISBE vice chair, "as individuals, not as much."

Holly Jack Award
Janet Miller, a 15-year veteran of the Mt. Vernon School District 80 administrative office, was recognized at Sunday's session as the first recipient of the IASB Holly Jack Outstanding Service Award.

The award was created to recognize outstanding work by a school board secretary in memory of a long-time IASB administrative assistant, Holly Jack, who was instrumental in organizing the professional development now offered for board secretaries at Joint Annual Conference. Jack died of cancer in 2008.

"It was a pleasure to work with Holly," Miller said after accepting her award from Joe Alesandrini, IASB president. "She was a remarkable woman and an inspiration to many."

Sunday's third general session closing the 77th Joint Annual Conference was led by Darrell Moon, Illinois ASBO president and chief financial officer for McHenry CHSD 156.

Moon encouraged those at the session to take what they had seen and heard over the three days back to their districts, and to thank their communities for supporting their professional development.

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