September 19, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

SJO School Board Candidate Kathy McCormick Q and A

There are five candidates running for four open seats on the SJO School Board.

Why are you running for school board?
I am running for my third term on the school board because I believe it is important to be involved and give back to your community. I have been involved in our community for many years. I was on the Prince of Peace Early Learning Center Board when the center was built and several years after. A friend and I started the Summer Daze program in the Village of St. Joseph, wrote a grant to obtain the land for the Community Park in St. Joseph, wrote a separate grant for the initial plans and infrastructure at the Community Park and organized the volunteers to build the playground and plant trees at the Community Park. After these opportunities, it seemed that the high school board was the perfect next step to give back to our community. I also serve as the Treasurer and Co-Secretary of our homeowner’s association.

What is the biggest challenge facing school districts?
It is difficult to name just one challenge school districts face as three of them come to mind:  finances, safety and available teachers. The government is continually looking for ways to decrease our funding. The most difficult part is not knowing how large the decrease will be and when it will happen. Our board and the administration are always concerned about the possibility of less funding. It is a constant challenge. The safety of our children is another significant concern, as no one ever knows what threats are nearby or when they may occur. Hiring teachers is challenging when the number of college students enrolling in teacher training programs is declining. This decreases the number of teachers applying for open positions, which decreases our chances of finding the best teachers to fill vacancies. I am proud to say that our school board, the administrators and the staff do everything they can to keep our finances in check. Our school board, administration, staff and our students, know how important safety is and take all necessary precautions to maintain safety at the highest possible extent in the school. We are fortunate that many teachers see SJO as a destination for their career. Despite these challenges our school is very successful. You can see the success by viewing the school’s Illinois Report Card.

What is SJO’s greatest strength?
  The biggest strength of SJO is the commitment of excellence by the whole community, including the administrators, staff, students and residents of all the surrounding communities included in SJO. We are all in this together, providing our kids with a safe, innovative learning environment and an education that prepares them for the future. Creating a strong school brings more families and more businesses to our whole community. Making our communities a great place for anyone to live, no matter what your age.

What do you think your biggest strength is regarding serving on school board?
My biggest strength serving on the school board is my longevity in the community, professional experience and experience from serving other organizations. Over the years I have lived in the community, I have formed relationships with people of all ages in the whole community. I have lived in St. Joseph for 33 years and my husband has lived here all his life. I have friends in all the communities that feed into SJO. My professional experience at the University of Illinois, College of Education allowed me to work with colleagues who provided me with knowledge and experience in education that directly applies to a school board member. Through my experience serving other organizations I have learned that it takes the whole community for success. I understand that boards work as one entity and no one board member has any authority, nor should they. The experiences I have had and the knowledge I have obtained allows me to understand many different views and have consideration for all those views.

Tell me about your family. 
I am retired from the University of Illinois, College of Education and Department of Special Education and now work as a travel agent for Island Travel Group. My husband, Dave, and I have been married for 27 years. He owns a mowing and soft wash business based in St. Joseph. We have two sons:  Tyler is 23 years old and Trey is 19 years old. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, serving my community and traveling.

For information on where to vote click here.

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