Volunteering was expected

Opinion: Letters to the editor

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My name is Monique Cotton Yancy, and I am running for District 91 school board. For 14 years my children and I have enjoyed calling Forest Park our home. I have five children, four of whom have attended or are currently attending D91 schools.

I grew up on the west side of Chicago where my mother ran a long-term shelter in the building where we resided. Families were given an apartment while they learned skills to be self-sufficient upon leaving. Volunteering was expected, and it was through seeing this that volunteerism became something ingrained deep in my soul.

I have volunteered in many capacities, including the Park District, Kiwanis and Boy Scouts as secretary. For two years I have been an active member of the Citizens Advisory Council, which serves as District 91's Improvement Planning Committee. I am also a member of the PTO. Professionally, I have worked in Benefit Administration for ten years.

The current D91 Board has created a solid foundation, but there is more work to be done. Our district has been phenomenal at identifying issues and creating action plans to correct them. Because I have such deep experience directly with the schools as well as in other parts of the community, I believe I will be able to take a more proactive approach to leadership while on the Board.

My goals for District 91 include:

- Bringing in more before and after school programs.

- Working on retention of our students. We have some clues about why parents leave our district before completing 8th grade. It is time for us to make retention a priority and identify tactics to keep families invested in our district and communities.

- Recognizing in what areas we are failing students and putting into place a concrete and measurable plan to implement change. We need to be more focused on quickly delivering quality education to all students. This includes examining test scores, discipline, and family satisfaction within the district and addressing opportunities and challenges so we can improve everyone's experience in D91 schools.

- Raising test scores. A core issue with our district is lagging test scores. While I don't believe this is the be-all, end-all I believe our students are capable of much more than we expect from them. We must make sure our most engaged students are being challenged while ensuring that any children who are struggling are given the support they need to succeed.

- Working with the special education department to make sure Forest Park has one of the best programs in the area. We must take a look at not just what is required by law, but what we can do beyond those requirements to make sure that all our children flourish. Forest Park is an amazing and diverse community, and once we provide our children the best possible education they will rise to our standards. If elected, I will strive to bring the best through diligent research, transparency, well-reasoned and concrete plans of improvement, and continual follow-up.

Monique Cotton Yancy

Forest Park District 91 Board of Education candidate

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