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December , 2018
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State Board members step down after each serving 10 years


SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois State Board of Education honored three of its longtime members for their dedication and expertise during the past decade. The terms for Board members Andrea Brown, Dave Fields and Vinni Hall expire in January; all three members have already served two four-year-terms, plus an additional two years.

“These three individuals have each brought a magnificent amount of experience, expertise and heart to this Board,” said State Board of Education Chairman Gery J. Chico. “We are lucky to have longtime educators who know what it’s like to be in the classroom as well as the board room, and who work with a laser-like focus on doing the right thing for Illinois students and schools.”

All three retiring Board members have donated thousands of hours to improve education on behalf of the more than 2 million public school students in Illinois. Each Board member worked on policies that helped improve the quality of teacher candidates and provide for more meaningful evaluations of both principals and teachers. They adopted more rigorous learning standards to prepare students for college and careers as well as a new assessment system that aims to better measure how well students are learning under the new standards.  They led the charge to improve education data to better inform classroom decisions and supported the development of the new award-winning and more consumer-friendly Illinois Report Card. In 2013, they successfully advocated to stop state cuts to K-12 education funding and realize the first increase in the education budget since 2009.

Dr. Andrea Brown’s 45 years of experience in Illinois education provided the Board with important insight and experience. Dr. Brown, a Marion resident, worked at the district level as a special education and elementary teacher, and then as superintendent of Cairo Unit School District 1. She later worked as a special education supervisor for Johnson, Alexander, Massac and Pulaski (JAMP) Special Education Services. After serving as regional superintendent for that same regional office from 1994 to 2003, Dr. Brown was appointed to the Illinois State Board of Education in September 2004, reappointed in 2007 and again in 2012.

Dr. Brown has devoted her time and experience to multiple statewide committees, including the Illinois Finance Study on Necessarily Small Schools, the Committee for Development of the Illinois Quality Review Process, the Southern Illinois Educational Leadership Advisory Committee, the Illinois Goals 2000 Panel, the Task Force to Streamline Illinois Education Delivery System and the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council.

Dr. Brown has continually kept the Board mindful of the challenges faced by students in rural areas and students who are impoverished. She served as key adviser for ISBE’s intervention work in the East St. Louis School District and encouraged the district’s School Board to engage community members to help resolve challenges. Dr. Brown also served as a member of the State Board’s Education Policy Planning Committee and the Finance and Audit Committee.

Dr. Dave Fields of Danville began his career in 1960 as a social studies teacher at Danville High School and North Ridge Junior High School in Danville District 118. He went on to become the district’s superintendent between 1990 and 2000. In 2004, Dr. Fields was appointed to ISBE, where his experience, his fiscal proficiency and ingenuity proved to be invaluable.

Dr. Fields’ dedication and volunteer work extended to more than 20 community organizations, earning him numerous awards and accolades over the years. He has received an African American Achiever Award from the NAACP, a First Citizen Award from the American Business Club and Volunteer of the Year from the Vermilion County Volunteers Association, among others.

Dr. Fields served on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Association of School Administrators for 10 years and led the Large Unit District Association for two years as president. He served on the 2008 Illinois Task Force of the African American Male and the Illinois Leadership Team for the National Governor’s Association Academy for Civic Engagement of Older Adults. While on the State Board, Dr. Fields chaired the Education Policy Planning Committee and served on the Board Operations Committee.

Through her work to connect assessments with instruction, advance career and technical education in the state and develop partnerships that support students and their families, Dr. Vinni Hall of Chicago played a key role in major Illinois education initiatives.

Dr. Hall began her career in 1967 in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), where she taught students ranging from pre-K to adult learners. Through the years, she went on to become an associate professor/special education chair at Chicago State University and director of the Inclusive Schools Project for CPS. She worked as a consultant to both CPS and the Illinois Center for Education and Rehabilitation.

Dr. Hall recently earned the National Association of School Boards of Education 2014 Distinguished Service Award for her exceptional service to public education. She served as liaison to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Poverty Commission and the Illinois Early Learning Council, where she is also a member. Dr. Hall serves on the Illinois State Board of Education’s Diverse Educator Advisory Group as well as the Erikson Institute’s Reducing Achievement Gaps in Illinois Task Force.

“It is rare for individuals to put in this kind of time and maintain this amount of enthusiasm for the work they do,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “All three have worked passionately and successfully to advance numerous initiatives during their service and have done so amid times of significant change and financial strain.”

The Board also recognized and congratulated Steven Elza, the 2015 Teacher of the Year. An automotive technology teacher at William Fremd High School in Township High School District 21, Elza gained a reputation for his dedication and role as a mentor who students still turn to long after graduation. His automotive technology program has achieved National Automotive Technician Education Foundation certification, a ranking that only 4 percent of all high schools in the United States have achieved. Additionally, Steve has led students to multiple state and national competitions, where his students have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and materials.

The State Board of Education consists of nine members who are appointed by the Governor, with consent of the Senate. The Board sets educational policies and guidelines for public and private schools, preschool through grade 12. It analyzes the aims, needs and requirements of education and recommends legislation to the General Assembly and Governor for the benefit of more than 2 million schoolchildren in Illinois.

For the latest news from the Illinois State Board of Education, follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Illinois-State-Board-of-Education/136022251779 or Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/ISBEnews.

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