Theresa Kelly

About 70 people from across Proviso Township packed the upper floor of Brian Boru Irish Pub in Forest Park, Dec. 2, to kick off the “209 Together” school board campaigns of Claudia Medina and Nathan ‘Ned’ Wagner.

Since that meeting, Theresa Kelly, long-serving board member of Proviso Township High School District 209, agreed to campaign with the two Forest Park parents. The three have also formed a committee, Citizens for Kelly, Medina and Wagner.

Kelly said the campaign’s momentum impressed her. Using language coined by Chicago’s Rev. Jesse Jackson during his 1984 presidential campaign, she said: “We have a Rainbow Coalition working together for all the children. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for when you have a team that cares about kids and school and the community.”

Medina, a native of Bogota, Colombia, said voices in the district were not being heard.

“There should be a Latino voice on the board and Forest Park representation,” she said. “Our children are feeding into a failing school district. We want a say in how we’re educating our children. We are part of that community whether they like it or not. Our voice is a proactive voice for all children. They all deserve dignity and excellence. That is the responsibility of a public education: Everybody’s child comes first.”

Wagner said he appreciated the perspectives of Kelly and board member Kevin McDermott of Westchester, who is not running for reelection.

“Meshing of our different perspectives is proving to be inspirational to us and the people we meet,” Wagner said. “We haven’t reached everyone in the township yet, but we can feel the energy growing with each conversation.”

Right now the group communicates largely through Facebook, but a website is taking volunteer names.


D 209 candidates vie for empty slot

Three positions on the D209 board are up for this election. Readith Ester will not seek a second term because she is running for Maywood trustee.


ShawnTe Raines-Welch

Other D209 hopefuls who have been circulating petitions are ShawnTe Raines-Welch of Hillside, wife of former D209 president Chris Welch, now 7th District state rep. 

Welch has been circulating petitions for Raines-Welch, incumbent Francine Harrell and Rev. Teddy Matthews, junior minister of Rock of Ages Church in Maywood.


Rev. Teddy Matthews

Raines-Welch and Matthews did not return phone calls and texts from Forest Park Review Monday.


Francine Harrell

Incumbent Francine Harrell, who is running for her second term, said she and her adult children were circulating their own petitions, although she has the support of Welch.

“I haven’t made a decision if I plan to run on anybody’s ticket,” she said Monday. Harrell believes she has the financial resources to run without help. She has had five grandchildren graduate from Proviso East over the years, including last year. The retired ComEd human resources executive said she believes things are getting better at D209 schools.

“We’re seeing more community and parent involvement and you can see it’s getting better from the [improved] test scores.”

Test scores on the 2014 PSAE test improved across the district this year. The PSAE test is being phased out in favor of a new, more rigorous PARCC assessment aligned with the Common Core Standards.


Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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