December 1, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

St. Joseph Grade School Candidate Surveys

There are three people running for three seats on the St. Joseph Grade School Board.

Jen Wagner
Why are you running for school board?
I want to be an active member in the decisions made for our district. Back in November, I heard there was going to be a vacant seat on the board and possibly no one interested in filling said seat. So here I am. I think I can make a difference.
 
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing school districts?
The demands and pressures on our schools are always growing. State funding would be my initial answer. But really, I feel like I need to rely on feedback from our current board members to evaluate what obstacles they have faced during their respective tenures.


What do you think is the biggest strength of your district?
The current board members have a clear vision for our district. They have goals for where our schools need to be, and measure the success of the district and superintendent against these goals. This board commits to a vision of high expectations for student and teacher achievement.


What do you think your biggest strength is regarding serving on school board?
When I worked and lived in Urbana several years ago, while searching for my place to call home, everyone said move to St. Joe, they have the best schools! We’ve all heard it, now we’ve all said it. Fast forward seventeen years, a first grader and a preschooler later, I couldn’t agree more. As a parent, I’m invested. Working with the PTC (St. Joseph Parent Teacher Club) over the last five years, and holding the president’s seat for the last two years, I see who our teachers and staff are. I see what they need to be successful. As their supporter, I’m invested. As a village resident, I want to see our community thrive and grow. I’m invested.


Tell me about your family.
My husband Jim and I have been married for 10 years. Our son Mason is six and is a first grader in Mrs. Ward’s class at St. Joseph Grade School. Our daughter Brynlee is four years old and attends preschool at Prince of Peace.
We take pride in the business we own here in St. Joseph and we take pride in our community. Although St. Joseph isn’t our original hometown, we have come to know many people here not as friends, but family.

Jeff Hoveln
Why are you running for school board?
I want to help support the school district in providing the best possible education for our students in the district.
 
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing school districts? 
Lack of state funding is our biggest challenge.  We have to rely more every year on local tax payer money.

What would do you think is the biggest strength of your district?
The administration and teachers are very high quality, motivated, people who work together to do what’s best for the students.

What do you think your biggest strength is regarding serving on school board?
I listen to all sides of an issue or situation before making a decision and considering what’s best for the district.

Tell me about your family.
My wife Shari and I have been married 30 years and have lived in the St. Joseph School district for 18 of those years.  Our three children Trent, Leah and Brant are all graduates of SJMS and SJOHS
 
Lois Hewerdine
Why are you running for school board?
St. Joseph 169 needs experienced board members to face the challenges brought on by society and legislation. Facing those challenges is satisfying work. I consider serving as a board member a privilege and staying involved in the schools is important to me. I never get tired of ‘school’.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing school districts? 
The greatest challenge: educating our youngest citizens to be the best readers, writers, and mathematical thinkers which they can be. Getting that done is no small task considering the ongoing pressures that students and families face everyday.

What would do you think is the biggest strength of your district?
St. Joseph’s families and children are the biggest strength of our district. The families and students in St. Jospeh view education as important and choose to make learning a priority.


What do you think your biggest strength is regarding serving on school board?
I have spent many years teaching in public schools from suburban Chicagoland to rural Illinois . Not all board members come with that experience.Through that perspective, I can see how policies/laws directly influence the classroom environment.

Tell me about your family.
My husband, Jerry, retired from teaching at St. Jospeh -Ogden High School. He continues to coach Track athletes at SJOHS. Our son and daughter attended St. Joseph public schools.

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