By Steve Robinson | May 23, 2018 - 10:06 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

In February, he announced his intentions to resign from Normal-based Unit 5 School Board due to a job transfer through his employer, State Farm Insurance. At that governing body’s meeting May 23 at district headquarters, Jim Hayek, who had been a Board member for three years, formally announced he was stepping down at the end of the evening. The Board held a closed door one-hour session, followed by the public meeting which lasted 45-minutes, followed by another closed door session.

“I’ve learned a lot from you and I just want to wish you the best,” said Board Member Taunia Leffler. Board Member Joe Cleary told Hayek he was envious because he was moving to a constantly warmer climate in Arizona.

“I’ll just always remember you for having a strategic mind and a general calmness that you brought to the table,” said Board President Barry Hitchins. “We had heated meetings over the three years here. You just always seemed calm, cool, and collected.”

“You moved us forward with our strategic plan,” Board Member Mike Trask said in beginning his tribute. Calling Hayek “a great mentor,” Trask added, “I’ve enjoyed conversations with you, and although we haven’t always agreed with each other, we’ve respected each other’s opinions.”

“Thank you for your leadership, thank you for your mentoring,” District Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel extended to Hayek. “I think I’ve learned many things from you, and I know Phoenix is going to be a better place because you and your family are going to be there.”

Hayek’s resignation becomes effective May 30. Under State law, Unit 5 will have 45 days from that date to appoint a successor. That person, after taking office, will have to formally run for the seat in the primary elections next spring.

In addition to Hayek’s departure, the Board will need a new clerk due to LaNell Greenberg, who has held the job for four years, moving on to become assistant to Nikki Maurer, associate principal at Normal Community High School. Greenberg has held numerous positions throughout the district during a14-year career with the district.

Normal Community High’s “Good News”: On May 10, the Normal Community High School’s Chapter of Best Buddies was named the Illinois Chapter of the Year by the national organization. Currently, more than 100 Best Buddies chapters in the State of Illinois. Earlier this semester, NCHS’ chapter named the Regional Chapter of the Year at the Annual Best Buddies Walk.

Best Buddies is an organization founded in 1989 with a mission to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. NCHS’ has grown over the years, with about 50 general education students and 25 students with disabilities who are paired through the program to bond at school during classroom and other weekly activities. This occurs by simply spending time together at school or out in the community. The teachers who serve as sponsors for the Best Buddies program at NCHS are Erin Sanders, Angie Cardiff, Brandy Sherrick and Amy Veselak.

NCHS assistant principal Natalie Shumaker and Addie Smith, an NCHS junior who has served as the president of the group this year, addressed Board members. “Our club has changed so many lives,” Smith told Board members. “It has changed my life, as well. We’re causing a ripple affect and we look forward to having a better year next year.”

In an emotional response to the presentation, Trask said his daughter has been “a beneficiary” of being part of the group. “I can’t tell you what its done for her.”

Parkside Elementary’s “Good News”: Team building was the goal of a program which took place in May at Parkside Elementary School. Assistant Principal Beth Goken explained Principal Ryan Weichman had team building in mind, and each day for a week earlier this month, seven teams competed in a unique team building event. Among the personal aspects of this were committing acts of kindness and showing team spirit among other challenges. Parkside students were included in many of the activities the program involved.

District’s “Good News”: Dr. Mark Daniel, district superintendent, brought to the attention of those attending the meeting news about the Tales of English Language Learners, or TELL exhibit. This exhibit, which was created collaboratively by Illinois State University students enrolled in School of Teaching and Learning, and School of Art Graphic Design courses, features stories of English Language Learners in Bloomington-Normal schools and at ISU.

TELL displays the journeys of students through their stories, cultural traditions, challenges, and dreams for the future. The exhibit seeks to reduce misconceptions and prejudice about the faces and voices of English Language Learners, or ELLs, in our community, and aspires to raise public awareness and create positive dialogue.

Each ELL story is a combination of determination, hope, and challenges. It is more important than ever to share the stories of ELLs through which we can understand better and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.

Dr. Rabia Hos has been instrumental in forging a partnership between ISU and Unit 5 English Learners Programs.

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