Arbdella "Della" Patterson

Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Wednesday Journal sent out to all candidates running in this year’s in this year’s elections.

Age: 53

Previous political experience: none

Previous community experience:

Parent/Student Advocate, Maywood Police Pension Board Member

Occupation: self-employed

Historically, we do think the District 209 school board has been so politicized? What can be done to change that?

Taking the politics out of Proviso Township District 209 High Schools Board of Education is in the hands of the voters. Our community has the opportunity to vote out the remaining politicians on the school board and change the trajectory of our schools for a very long time. Vote for parents who will work every day for the benefit of all the children in our district and who will not offer contracts to campaign contributors. That is how we remove politics from our school.

Is the physical plant at Proviso East obsolete and should it be replaced?

Everything old is not necessarily obsolete. There are ways and means to restore and refurbish buildings so as to maintain the history and dignity of the facility and modernizing the structure.

What has the district administration and school board done to adapt to the increasing Hispanic enrollment at its schools? What else can be done to respond to changing demographic trends?  

District 209 administration will do all that is possible to ensure that all students, regardless of race, are treated fairly and with respect. In addition, a strategic and vetted plan must be executed to recruit and maintain quality faculty and staff that not only reflect the demographics of the student population but also who are willing to be a part of the communities which they serve.

What do you think about standardized test scores and academic performance at schools in District 209? What action can the school board take to help improve student achievement?

The scores of our students are not where they should be. However, I will be glad when we stop making academic achievement just about a number.  We must make academic achievement about looking at the whole student.   We must honestly articulate with the schools which feed into Proviso Township High Schools. We must exchange curriculum maps with them so that they enter high school prepared to excel.  We must articulate with the colleges in the area so that we know what they expect of our students when they go to the next level.  We must also articulate with the trade schools and industries and know what they require of high school students. Moreover, achievement must not just include the score on a test but also the importance of behavior, discipline, and determination.  We must provide our students with not just classes but activities that help to drive and reinforce what they are learning in the classroom.

How does District 209 integrate technology into the classroom? What can be done to expand the integration of technology at the classroom level?

At present, District 209 has access to technology.  Our teachers use PC’s smartboards, iPads, and etc.  However, I believe we need to go beyond putting a device into the hands of students.  We should show students how to use these devices properly and how to use technology as a tool for learning and finding solutions. Moreover, we must show our students how to fix technology, how to code, and how to become their own inventors and programmers.

What are the essential qualities the school district should seek in the next principal at Proviso West?  

As with any principal at any school, the new principal for Proviso West will require a specific skill set for the needs of the specific school and the children and families within our school. We must look for a master teacher first, someone who has shown dedication and talent in the classroom and not for just a few years.  One cannot tell others how to do what he/she did not do.  The new principal must also show leadership skills.  A school is like a city that has many components: students, faculty, staff, parents, community, budgets, buildings and grounds.  Most importantly, the person must be willing to go beyond the office to be visible in the school, at activities, and in the community.  I want a principal that works toward more than a test score. I want a principal who makes the success of their students a priority.