File photos

Christina Ricordati

Educational background: Bachelor’s degree in public policy and sociology from the University of Chicago; master’s degree in public administration from DePaul University

Occupation: Education policy analyst

What is your educational philosophy when it comes to children? 

School should be an environment where children thrive. That means it must be safe and welcoming, it must challenge them yet meet them where they are, and it must prepare them for whatever stage of life comes next.

What are your goals for District 91? 

Ensuring we are helping every student succeed. Some of that comes with improved test scores and some of that comes with providing opportunities beyond standardized testing that showcase the great work our students are doing.

Where does the district need to improve? 

Highlighting successes. There is so much that parents know about the school their kids go to that the broader community does not. Also, determining where our preparation for standardized testing is falling short and rectifying it to improve our scores.

Kim Rostello 

Educational background: Bachelor’s degree in physical education; master’s degree in exercise physiology; master’s degree in physical education, fitness management; Ph.D. in metaphysics

Occupation: Retired from the University of Illinois Chicago about five years; Currently an adjunct faculty member at the College of Lake County in Vernon Hills

What is your educational philosophy when it comes to children?

I believe that the focus in education needs to be on developing the whole child. Not only do we need to focus on the academic skills to help kids become lifelong learners, but we need to actively work on developing social and emotional skills. Every child has the potential to bring something special to the world. Each individual child needs to be in a safe, caring, nurturing and intellectually stimulating environment in which to grow and succeed intellectually, emotionally and socially.

What are your goals for District 91?

My goal is to work together as a board to move the district forward. I want to connect more with the community, parents and each individual school. I have been impressed when I go to events at the schools and see how creatively the students are learning. My plan is to visit the schools and actually sit in on classrooms to see how children are engaged in learning, individually and with their peers. I want to be in conversation with the teachers and the administration. I am one of the board liaisons to the Future Ready Committee and I look forward to seeing how this program will help the students.

Where does the district need to improve?

There are many factors that contribute to children succeeding as they move on in their educational journey. While we know and understand that standardized testing is not the only thing that contributes to or indicates that a child will succeed, we still need to improve those scores. We need to do a better job when it comes to the difference in achievement among different cultural groups. I think that the Future Ready Schools Program and the new Fast Bridge Testing will contribute to better success.

Shannon Wood

Occupation: Stay-at-home mom with one preschooler at Garfield and one third-grader at Grant White

What is your educational philosophy when it comes to children?

I believe it is important for all kids to receive a quality education. All kids have different strengths and places where improvement can happen. I believe the sooner a difficulty is identified, the sooner the child can get the help and resources to help them be their best.

What are your goals for District 91?

I want to build on what the previous board has worked on, such as the future ready program and teaching the kids about how to collaborate. I also believe it is important to keep the kids and parents aware of how to be kind to all people, not just focus on test scores.

Where does the district need to improve?

Our test scores. I know our current board is aware that improvement is needed. I hope to be part of finding a solution and seeing those scores go up to where I know they can be.

Kyra Tyler 

Educational background: Bachelor’s of music in flute performance from Northwestern University; master’s of education in higher education from Harvard University

Occupation: Educational consultant with College Coach for the last 11 years — primary responsibility is working with students and their families on the college admission process; also discussing topics like early reading and writing, study skills and motivation with parents of elementary and middle school students; previous work includes in Undergraduate Admissions at Brandeis University and in Alumni Affairs and Development at Harvard College

What is your educational philosophy when it comes to children?

I wholeheartedly believe that all children can learn; it’s just a matter of taking the time to assess how each student is most capable of learning, which is where I believe the magic can happen. When we’re able to tap into what engages our students and allows them the space to discover and thrive, I believe that is when we are serving students to the best of our ability.

What are your goals for District 91?

My goals for D91 are diverse and wide-reaching. However, my overarching goal is that we continue to be flexible and nimble enough to tweak our plans and/or methods to meet the needs of our students. One concrete way the district is doing this now is through the adoption of Future Ready Schools. I also want us to do a better job of sharing the accomplishments of the district with everyone in the community, regardless of whether or not they have children in D91 schools. Continuing to be a welcoming environment for students at all academic levels, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, etc. is also very important to me. And because I’m such a proponent of the arts, continued growth in our district’s music program is also a goal I’d like to see D91 keep in its sights.

Where does the district need to improve?

Despite our best efforts, we still need to work with our students to achieve success as it relates to standardized testing. We absolutely recognize that a test score doesn’t tell the whole picture, and, in fact, our graduates find themselves with many options for high school — including D209— which we’re so proud of. So we are setting a great foundation for secondary schooling and beyond. But when it comes time for standardized testing metrics, our students are performing at an average level. We know that’s not an accurate depiction of their ability and we’re working hard to help them improve.

Mary Win Connor

Educational background: St. Luke Parish School in River Forest; Trinity High School

Occupation: Freelance bookkeeper 

What is your educational philosophy when it comes to children?

I believe that every child deserves to be given an education that is commensurate with their ability to learn. One child may become a Rhodes scholar and one may find their peak in being able to read. They both deserve the best we can offer them.

What are your goals for District 91?

That every child who attends a D91 school, even if only for a short time, leave improved as a student and as a citizen of the world. 

Where does the district need to improve?

I think our biggest issue is that there are incredible things going on in our schools and not enough people know about them. People come to our meetings and are shocked to find the level of learning that is going on in our schools. The ability of our students to think critically and understand complex issues is amazing.

Eric Connor

Educational background: Bachelor’s degree in economics from Loyola University Chicago (1973); Juris doctor degree from John Marshall Law School (1977); Admitted to practice law in 1977

Occupation: Assistant Public Defender with the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender assigned to the 4th Municipal District in Maywood

What is your educational philosophy when it comes to children?

My educational philosophy is directly aligned with the District 91 mission statement:

“Our mission, in partnership with home and community, is to educate each individual child in a safe and nurturing environment. We will foster respect and self-worth, teach skills relevant to contemporary life, and promote academic success and creative expression. We will encourage an appreciation of the rich cultural diversity of our community, and instill a sense of wonder for the future to enable our students to become lifelong learners and responsible citizens of the world.”

All board members have the same philosophy. We recite this at the beginning of our board meetings and at each official event at the district. We, as a board, review the statement every year at our summer goal-setting sessions. It has changed very little over the years.

What are your goals for District 91?

I have always had a person goal of keeping the district economically healthy while providing the students with every advantage we can offer them. This means giving the teachers and administration the tools they need to assist the children to succeed.

That being said, the board can only act as a whole. No individual member has any authority, and I believe each current member understands that premise. Again, I refer back to our mission statement.

Where does the district need to improve?

We as a board have always tried to implement “best practices.” There is always room for improvement and I think we strive for that. We have instituted many programs to that end. But we need to continually improve. Our district test scores under the PARCC testing have been disappointing, to say the least. We as a board, with the administration, have started to implement several new assessment programs to address this.