Citizens to vote for D202 Board on April 2

Zachary Bahar, Asst. News Editor

Four candidates are running for the three open seats on the Evanston School Board, the election between Slaney Palmer, Monique Parsons, Elizabeth Rolewicz and Stephanie Teterycz will take place on Tuesday, April 2 alongside the elections for District 65 School Board.

The candidates are running for the seats left open after current board members Jonathan Baum and Mark Metz both decided not to run for reelection, along with the seat Parsons left open at the end of her current term.

The election build-up has consisted of several discussion panels between the candidates including one at ETHS on Mar. 19. In addition to these events several of the candidates have been endorsed by local groups such as the Organization for Positive Action and Leadership (OPAL), who endorsed candidates for “understanding the work needed to reduce the academic predictability of Black students based on historic and structural racism in the US education system.”

Voting will take place at polling places across Evanston.

Monique Parsons:

Monique Parsons has been involved in the Evanston community her entire life. After graduating from ETHS, she received a Bachelors in Sociology at the University of Minnesota, before returning to Evanston to raise her son.

“I came back to raise my son here because of the values instilled in me. Not just by my mother but by members of the community as a young girl. I still believe in that collective power of Evanston, no matter how upset I may get.”

Since returning to Evanston, Parsons has served in various community positions including the Walker School PTA, Youth Job Center Mentor, FAAM Executive Board Member, President and CEO of McGaw YMCA and as the vice-president of the ETHS School Board.

“[I] have invested myself into this community, worked in it, not just passed through it… I’m invested in this community. I’m knowledgeable in this community. I love this community, and I’m very driven in making decisions that are best for the students, nothing besides that.”

One of the issues that Parsons is running on is the divide in opportunities between white students and students of color, which she believes is one of the biggest challenges that Evanston must face.

“I believe that if [closing the opportunity gap] can be done, it should be done in Evanston. There’s this collective will within this community to really start focusing on not only the school factors that contribute to that gap, but also the non-school factors within our community that contribute to that gap. We can put our minds together and start to see some movement; change can’t just happen within the walls of our high school, we need to collaborate to make sure that our efforts reach the outside.”

In addition to the opportunity gap, Parsons has spoken out about the need for increased community involvement in the School Board and the policies it makes.

“We aren’t where we need to be in terms of community engagement on the Board level. We need to be more creative in how we engage our parents and our community… I have an aspiration to have more parents present at our meetings to talk about things they are concerned about. We haven’t found the right way to make that opportunity open to some families, especially black and brown families. [More engagement] requires that we’re not only constantly looking outwards but also looking inwards [at what we’ve been doing].”

Parsons is one of the candidates endorsed by OPAL and can be contacted at [email protected].

Liz Rolewicz:

Liz Rolewicz is running for her first term as a District 202 Board Member on the platform of improving the distribution of resources to all members of the community.

“Evanston is a highly resourced city and ETHS is a highly resourced school that serves a lot of our population very very well. My concerns are who are we not serving and if we have the resources for everybody to have a successful education and enter a successful career or college path after ETHS. We have specific groups of students who are not thriving in our school and I want to shine a spotlight on them.”

Rolewicz is a graphic designer with a bachelors from University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been involved in the community in many organizations including the District 65 PTA Equity Project, Evanston CASE, Chicagoland Foster Parents and as a member of Back on Their Feet, which specializes in peer-to-peer support for those in need.

“Working with [marginalized individuals] and hearing them caused me to realize that I want to get closer to our schools to influence policy and culture so that we can make sure that the high school is serving all students equally and fairly. ETHS is such a great role model as far as the equity work they’ve been doing and I wanted to be a part of that work.”

Part of the reason that Rolewicz is running is due to her strong sentiment towards equity initiatives that have sprung up around Evanston in the past couple of years.

“This is a conversation that goes back decades but there has been a lot of momentum in the last couple years and we’re reaching a critical mass of community members who see the value in this work and are willing to push it forward. It makes me really excited to think about the potential changes to be made knowing that we’re trailblazing a lot of these efforts.”

Rolewicz stated that although she has been involved in this community for many years, with children in the public school system, all of her work hasn’t gotten to the root of the problems in Evanston.

“Instead of putting a bandage on the issues, I want to help solve them… the school because of its resources can be a support system and can help people rise out of whatever issues their having and reach the opportunities they can achieve at ETHS.”

Due to her focus on closing the opportunity gap in Evanston, Rolewicz has also been endorsed by OPAL. She can be contacted at [email protected].

Stephanie Teterycz:

Stephanie Teterycz hopes to fuse her interests in education and equity through a position on the School Board.

“I have been active in the community for a number of years, particularly through the PTA Council at District 65, which has organized a number of events around equity and diversity looking at a number of issues in which we need an equity lens to be able to counteract things such as the disparages in opportunity… There’s also my extensive background in higher education, specifically working with high school students through the summer program at Northwestern. My reasons for running is to marry those interests, to help high school students get college and career ready and to do so through the lens of equity.”

Teterycz has taught at Northwestern for nearly 20 years and has led initiatives in diversity and strategic planning, along with running the summer program which brings Chicagoland area students to take Northwestern classes over the summer. She received her Masters in Education from Northwestern.

“I feel very involved in [ETHS]. My daughter came up through D65 and I’ve watched her in various public school settings, and I bring that lens to the school board, the parent lens.”

Much like her fellow candidates, Teterycz was endorsed by OPAL due to her commitment towards equity, something shown via her role in Making Evanston Equitable Together in which she helped to organize the distribution of Black Lives Matter signs across the city.

“I really think that my role would be to champion the equity work and help the administration do the work that it’s doing better. To bring together all the voices that I can bring to the table… making sure that the community and the parents and the students are getting heard and represented on the board. Bringing in all constituents of the high school and making equity a common holistic effort.”

Teterycz also expressed the need to increase student and parent involvement on the board level, and plans to investigate better ways of eliciting student feedback on board proceedings.

“[Evanston has a] common commitment to making sure that important work is getting done and to keep pushing and peeling to figure out ways we can do that better.”

Teterycz can be contacted at [email protected].

Slaney Palmer:

Slaney Palmer has been a teacher for many years, and hopes to bring that insight to the Evanston School Board.

All educators would agree that if they had the opportunity to serve for thirty wonderful years… that is the most important thing. We [teach] because we love young people and we are interested in the future. This is an opportunity to have an impact on my community and all students in Evanston and ETHS. To serve my community.”

Palmer was born in Jamaica and received his Masters in Education from Loyola Chicago. He ended up in Highland Park where he currently teaches history and civics.

“I see the value in education. I see the value in ETHS. It’s probably one of the most socially impactful institutions because the entire community relies on it… I want to help with the integrity of that institution. I see ways to better improve the lives of the students and their learning outcomes.”

As a teacher Palmer has noticed the gap in literacy rates amongst minority students at ETHS and hopes that with his help the board could work to better meet those students where they are and get them to where they need to be.

“Here is an issue concerning males and females that look like me, and I want to be a part of the solution… The truth is that literacy is everybody’s business. It is not a reading teachers problem. It is not an English teachers problem because the truth is that we all need to read to be successful. In any subject, we have to be able to read and write.”

Palmer currently acts as a board member at OAR Educational and Mentoring Scholarships,  a mentorship program that helps get students the support they need to navigate the university process and receive financial aid. After hearing about the open seats from a friend, Palmer realized that through a position on the board he could improve the student experience at ETHS with his first-hand understanding and experience in education.

“My curiosity motivated me to want to run for the school board… I always seek to serve the community of which I am a part of. [That’s] your job as a public servant [and] as a teacher; to serve others.”

Palmer can be contacted at [email protected].