Name: Sarah Makeever-Shumway
Family: Husband, Douglas; and two sons Douglas III (“Trey”), age 12, and George, age 10.
Years in residency in district: 38
Occupation: Speech-language pathologist
Previously elected positions: Served on the Trinity Lutheran Church Council for 6 years
Contact information for voters: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. Why have you decided to run for the high school board and what major goals do you plan to work toward?
A. I made the decision to run for Ottawa High School board in hopes that I can be a part of the district’s already wonderful accomplishments and in further developing and improving the atmosphere and education offered to the youths in the community. I absolutely loved working with students and faculty during my more than 10 years working at OHS in the past (I left five years ago to pursue other career opportunities). The district has many phenomenal people and resources that could perhaps be utilized differently to maximize the potential for the school and for the community. A goal I would like to work on if elected is improved communication between all stakeholders in the community and a more collaborative effort to meet goals for success within the district.
Q. What sets you apart from your opponents?
A. What sets me apart from my opponents is that I have worked in this setting and have a very realistic understanding of what it’s like to work at OHS toward academic and functional goals with secondary students, their parents, faculty and staff, and administration. I know the realistic struggles all of these parties face and can empathize. I feel respectful discussions should be had that allow all of these voices to be heard so that feasible decisions can be made in the best interest for students’ needs. This sometimes takes significant collaboration and creative, open-minded thinking, but hearing the needs of all parties and working together for a successful outcome is well worth it. This also reinforces to all involved the importance of this skill in life. I feel this is an absolutely imperative period of time to reach students before entering into adulthood and hope that I am given the opportunity to use my personal skills and knowledge to assist in guiding the district to use resources most effectively to best prepare each of the district’s students for all of the aspects of life, including functional, vocational, college-preparatory, and social-emotional, while setting an example of how community members work together respectfully to meet positive goals.
Q. What do you see as the biggest issue facing your school district and what would you do to address that issue?
A. In my profession, I see a decline of social/functional communication skills, including taking others’ perspectives, independent and collaborative problem solving, compromising, etc. While OHS is a wonderful place with a multitude of happy memories for me as a student and former employee, unfortunately I think the biggest issue that the school currently faces is consistent with the trend for other communities as well. We are all busy with different events and separated into committees, which is effective at some levels, but coming together and working together as a whole is also important. Problem solving as a collaborative effort, communicating effectively with others and using all of our currently available resources to maximize our potential is vital for the feeling of an improved atmosphere. I think the school board could lead the effort in improving this enhanced communication and collaboration, and I would love to be part of this.
Q. What do you see as a school board member’s role in running the school district?
A. A school board member’s role in running the school district is taking responsibility for making and setting the school’s policies and procedures and employing the superintendent to oversee this within the district. Being elected by the community, I feel that what is valued and relevant within the community needs to be addressed in the policy, and this is where board members would have more of an impact. As a district we should constantly be evaluating ourselves on what we are doing well, what we could possibly improve on, what isn’t effective for the students in the community, etc.
Q. Do you feel the current board is transparent and easily accessible to the public? If not, what could be done better?
A. Because I am not currently on the board, I cannot speak to transparency. They post open session board minutes. I think efforts can always be made to improve communication and accessibility. I understand that the position of board member is challenging, and with that comes a large time commitment. If elected I will make it a priority to not only be available to listen to the concerns of the community, but also work with its members to build an educational institution that our students, faculty, administration and community can be proud of.
Q. How many board meetings have you recently attended?
A. I have attended the last four monthly OHS board meetings, the Illinois Association of School Boards Briefing for Candidates, and the Starved Rock Illinois Association of School Boards Division spring meeting.