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First General Session

Honoring School Board Service Past; Educating Children in the Future

A contrast of the past and future was on display at the First General Session of the 2013 Joint Annual Conference.

Celebrating its 100th anniversary, the Illinois Association of School Boards opened the conference on behalf of its other hosts, the Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials.

IASB President Carolyne Brooks focused on the legacy of school board service in general and the careers of nearly two dozen long-serving school board members specifically. After each was introduced and several other awards announced, the keynote speaker pleaded with the audience to embrace 21st Century learning techniques and ideas.

“We’re not preparing these children for our future,” said veteran educator David Warlick. “We’re preparing these children for their future.”

Brooks, who has served as IASB president for the past two years, noted the Association’s centennial as an occasion to celebrate the legacy of school leadership and public education. “No one can say whether those first Association members in 1913 anticipated the extreme pressures facing school boards today. But we know that they understood the need to build a strong organization dedicated to protecting local school governance,” she said.

Before introducing the organization’s longest-serving board members by division, Brooks brought the new executive director of the National School Boards Association, Thomas Gentzel, to the stage. “School board service is the last true vestige of true citizen service,” he said. “IASB has endured for 100 years because it continues to adapt to and meet the needs of its members.”

Warlick, who has spent 35 years as a teacher, administrator and consultant, then turned the program into a virtual presentation. Using video, avatars and real-time blogging, he made his case for digital content and student-owned learning. “Today’s students are not limited by the same definitions,” he said, referring to school buildings, schedules and print media. “For the first time in history, we are preparing our kids for a future we can’t even describe.”

His presentation concluded with three primary points: we prepare students for an unpredictable future. “Kids are looking for new experiences, new stories, new plots…that they create,” he said. Warlick also said that the new generation of learners is nothing like the current or past generations. “For us, information is a finished product; for them, information is a raw material to make their own,” he said. Finally, he suggested that educators embrace a new information environment. “The best thing we can do is to help them learn how to teach themselves.”

The first general session also saw awards given for risk management and school design. Dixon Unit SD 170 officials were given the David Binotti Risk Management Award for having an active safety committee, a regular schedule of building and grounds maintenance, administrative support, regular training and safety inspections.

Two districts were singled out to receive the top honors in the 2013 Invitational Exhibition of Educational Environments. Awards of Distinction were presented to Des Plaines CCSD 62 and its architects, Wight & Co, for the Iroquois Community School, and to Washington CHSD 308 and its architects, BLDD Architects, for renovation of the high school.

After accepting the award, 308 board member Tim Custis also acknowledged the public response to and support for the district in the aftermath of the Nov. 17 tornado that ravaged their community.


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