The Forest Park Review sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Review’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.

Jayda James | Provided

Name: Jayda James

Age: 46 

Previous Political Experience: Candidate for Maywood Park District Commissioner, 2013

Previous/Current Community Involvement: Cheer Coordinator, Maywood Park District, 2003-2015; Womens Empowerment Coordinator, 2016-Current; Mentor for Young Girls, 2018-2019

Occupation: Elementary Assistant Principal; teacher, 1998-2022

Education: B.A. in Elementary Education, Northern Illinois University; M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction, Olivet Nazarene University; M.A. in Educational Leadership, Aurora University

1. Please describe what, in your opinion, have been specific accomplishments made by District 209 over the past two years.

The specific accomplishments I have observed over the past two years are:

  1. The perseverance of the students, teachers, staff, and administrators to maintain student involvement and achievement during a global pandemic. My own son graduated from PMSA in 2021 and I was appreciative of all the efforts that were made to help make his Senior year the best it could be under the circumstances.
  2. The maintaining and enhancing of facilities has been an accomplishment. As a PE Alum, it was a very beautiful moment to attend the new football field dedication and step on that field. My pride was heightened!
  3. The initiatives to involve parents and community members in the district. As a parent, I appreciate the “open door” that has been presented so when I have the time, I am able to be as active as I choose in my daughter’s high school endeavors.

2. Dr. James Henderson has had both supporters and critics of his administration since his appointment as superintendent of Proviso Township High School. Please provide your opinion of the work he has done at D209, including his relationship with faculty, his communications with parents and community, his management of a complex organization through a pandemic.

I, honestly, do not have an opinion of Dr. Henderson because I have not had an opportunity to get to know him well enough. As a Board Member, it will be a goal to get to know him and work with him to ensure that policies and procedures are equitable and beneficial for students, first and foremost.

3. As a board member, how would you respond to complaints and protests brought by students concerned with their education?

As a Board member, I am going to encourage students to express themselves in a positive and productive way. We have learned from different leaders ways to fight and protest so that our voices can be heard. I will respond to respectful complaints and protests with a listening ear and will encourage students, and adults as well, to come to the table not with just complaints and problems, but with feasible solutions.

4. Do you believe that the strike by teachers last year was unavoidable? How do you believe the district benefited by the strike’s resolution?

I believe that a strike is always unavoidable. I have been in education contract negotiations and used the Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) method so as a Board Member, I would suggest this format in the future as I saw it yielded positive results. As an Educator for 25 years, I have never been on strike. I was Vice President of my union and always made efforts to listen, pick the important battles, and be cooperative in all situations. I do not believe anyone benefited from the strike or its resolution simply because it still bears a heavy weight on our district.

5. If you are elected to what continues to be a divided school board, what skills would you bring to governing productively?

The most important skill I bring is my ability to effectively communicate (speaking and listening). I am connected to the different stakeholders as I am a parent, educator, community member, administrator, and alum. I can speak with the voice of all these groups and listen with my ear as well. As a Board Member, I want to be a part of what is good and working in D209. I am a product and parent of this district and want to help paint a more positive picture for the world to see by working with my fellow Board Members and Superintendent.