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Karen Stuefen: 'We Must Model for Children the Behavior We Expect from Them'

Stuefen is one of eight candidates vying for one of four seats on Elmhurst Unit District 205 School Board.

  • Elmhurst District 205 School Board candidate: Karen Stuefen
  • Web site: www.electkarenstuefen.com
  • E-mail: karen.stuefen@gmail.com
  • Family: husband, Tom; son Andrew, 18, and daughter Emma, 17
  • Education: bachelor of science in Computer Science, Benedictine University, associates degree in business data processing, Illinois Valley Community College
  • Occupation: Telecommunications industry: research and development, software engineer, networks, operations, sales, marketing, corporate staff. Matrix management with HR, University of Excellence, Organizational Development.
  • Previous elected offices: none
  • Applicable experience: Led corporate Senior Executive Advisory Council; transformed organizations and programs for 15 years; developed and brought new technologies to commercial market; recognized for new revenue contribution to AT&T’s commercial market; experience in sales, marketing, business development, operations, organizational development, quality and business process improvement, project management; former member of Minority and Women in Business, Quality Productivity and Management Association and Chicago Quality Council

What is the primary reason you are running for this office?

We need a strong leadership team that works collaboratively to raise performance, maximize tax dollars and deliver a well-rounded education. I have served as an Elmhurst Educational Program Review Technique (EEPRT) committee member, York High School PTSA Executive Board member and participated on the standards-based grading committee. There are gaps I believe we can improve. My professional track record of success in improving performance while maximizing funds will serve District 205 well. We must realize our district’s potential and provide a better educational experience for our students. We must model for children the behavior we expect from them.

What will be your priority if you get elected?

I plan to work with my peers to lead by example, demonstrating respect for others and their ideas while moving District 205 to higher performance.

  • Provide an education that is based on knowledge and innovation. Help all children realize their potential by attracting and retaining inspiring, high performing teachers and administrators.
  • Deliver a strong curriculum with seamless transition and growth from early childhood through high school to prepare students for college and vocations.
  • Show financial accountability by linking program values to student achievement by tracking results and monitoring program progress.
  • Collaborate with all constituents by engaging in two-way communication and executing successful solutions.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I am an independent, thoughtful person willing to dedicate my time and skills to the Board of Education even though my son has moved on to college from District 205 and my daughter is a junior at York. I have experienced first hand, the strengths and weaknesses within the district’s education cycle. Strengthening our schools will benefit our community as a whole.

My professional experience, along with my collaborative style will strengthen the board and make it possible to improve outcomes for all students.  Professionally, I have dealt with multimillion-dollar budgets while maximizing each dollar and keeping standards high.

How long have you lived in Elmhurst?

My husband and I found Elmhurst bicycling on the Illinois Prairie Path over 20 years ago.

What's the best thing about Elmhurst District 205?

We have all the elements required to excel as a premier district and increase property value for Elmhurst citizens: community engagement, passionate and dedicated teachers, great minds and a willingness to ensure Elmhurst is a destination district delivering an excellent education.  

What is the biggest problem in Elmhurst District 205?

True, collaborative leadership is missing. We need a team that sets the vision and educational priorities while respecting others and their ideas.  We need to understand the teaching and learning environment for our students and work collaboratively with the teachers to successfully implement the initiatives. The ability to collaborate with all constituents and facilitate open communication for quality solutions will best serve our students and encourage educational success.

Do you think morale among teachers and staff is low, and if so, how, specifically, do you plan to improve it?

“Be the best you can be,” are words I try to live by every day. As a board member, I would try to instill that same mentality in all of our administrators, teachers and students. Fostering a can-do environment for our children will enhance their educational experience. We have passionate committed teachers and staff. I believe they chose education as their profession to make a positive impact on children. We must provide an environment that encourages students to become actively engaged in choosing their own path to success.

Do you think District 205’s reputation has been eroded over the past couple of years? If so, what caused that and how, specifically, do you plan to improve it?

Our students performance has improved, yet comparatively we have work to do. We need to identify and close achievement gaps, monitor students carefully, provide structure, tools and assistance to ensure each student reaches his/her potential. As an employer, we remain a destination district with a great educational program. A strong leadership team dedicated to student success will be key to our overall success.

What “best practices” would you like to incorporate, either from previous District 205 administrators or from other school districts, to improve curriculum and student achievement?

Instructional leaders within our district are responsible for identifying, evaluating, recommending and integrating appropriate best practices based on our needs. The district has invested in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) for differentiation of instruction and Response to Intervention (RTI) strategies and techniques. We need to ensure the district adheres to the five-year curriculum review cycle. We can explore Just-in-Time professional development for teachers.

Do you think budget cuts are going to solve the district’s budget problems for the long term? What else can be done going forward to maintain a healthy budget?

As part of District 205’s Elmhurst Educational Program Review Technique (EEPRT) Committee, I was able to participate first-hand in the process of reviewing programs, their value, linkage to student achievement, targeted outcomes, financial health and accountability. It’s a good start to managing value, outcomes, funds and setting higher expectations. We need to obtain feedback from those who participated in this process and make modifications to increase the value produced. We must positively move forward to meet ever-increasing educational goals while producing students who can successfully compete in the global market.

Deb Conroy March 11, 2011 at 06:24 PM
I believe that Karen is independant and wants to be an advocate for ALL students.

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