Tiffany L. Cappel: 2023 Candidate for for Antioch District 34 School Board (4-year term)

  • Tiffany Cappel

    Tiffany Cappel

Posted3/17/2023 1:00 AM


Town: Lake Villa


Age on Election Day: 49



Previous offices held: School board member December 2021-present


Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?

A: I became a school board member in December 2021 after a resignation left a vacant seat. I'm running this time for the same reason I interviewed for my current seat; I care about students, teachers, and our community. My family has lived in Lake Villa for 19 years. My three grown children graduated from District 34 and District 117 and I have always raved about their education. We now have three younger children attending Oakland School and my hope is to support them, and all district 34 students, obtain the same excellent education. In addition, I taught 4th grade in our district for nearly 10 years. I understand the challenges that teachers face, and now more than ever, I want to do my part to advocate for them as well. I believe the only way to gain personal success is to constantly take steps forward.

Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?

A: The school board has a responsibility to understand their governance role. Hiring and evaluating the superintendent is the first step. After that, allowing that person to do his/her job is important. This trickles down to administration and accountability is key. Regarding the curriculum, the board has an obligation to constantly monitor progress and take guidance from the people in place to manage the data. Our district has a curriculum review cycle which monitors the outcomes of students and makes curricular adjustments as needed. I believe board members should have an understanding of the standards in place, the curriculum and programs being used to support students meeting those standards, the evaluation tools, and the programs to intervene when individual students are not meeting them. Having said that, it is the superintendent and his team who are the experts and we consider their recommendations.

Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?

A: As we continue to monitor data, there are some trends in test scores which are concerning. As a response to covid and remote learning the district has put programs in place to close the gap for students struggling to meet expectations of the standards. Some of the trends have been noted even before covid and the administration is working with the staff to look at potential gaps in our curriculum. This is a continuous process and board members sit and actively participate on committees which regularly meet to make necessary adjustments.

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Q: How do you view your role in confronting policy or curriculum controversies: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?

A: As a board member it is imperative to understand the laws that govern school districts, and to evaluate current policies to ensure they are compliant with the ever changing laws. One of the greatest challenges for me, as a new school board member, has been realizing that some things are out of our control. Having sat in on a policy committee meeting, I was impressed by the work done by board members before me. Our policies are clear and understandable, they connect to state law where applicable, and they are student focused. Stake holders have the opportunity to give feedback and make suggestions which are always taken into consideration, but ultimately there are seven people representing the community, making the best decisions, for ALL students. We are currently in the strategic planning process, which will give us a foundation for our future policies.

Q: Concerns are growing regarding a new resurgence of the pandemic. If another massive outbreak of infectious disease occurs, what have we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that will guide your decision making?

A: Teachers are amazing, adaptable humans. What they were able to accomplish during remote learning, with little notice, was something no classes or experience ever could have prepared them for. Our district 34 teachers did an incredible job keeping students engaged and learning. The data shows however, that academically it was not the best way for our students to learn. Knowing this, I would encourage the board to consider the guidance from those in the appropriate positions and make responsible decisions based on what we know is best for kids. We have lived it. We have learned from it. And we are ready should the problem arise again.


Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage school district policy? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your school board.

A: Having worked in education, I have been on various committees which require some sort of consensus of groups of people with differing ideas. I learned early on that to sit at such a table, I must be prepared with evidence or data to back up my ideas. It is not enough to share what we "think" or what we "want". We must have support to back us up. Some of the decisions are tough, not even what is best for our own children. But as a board member we must consider all students at all times. I am certain that I will be effective in producing appropriate actions and decisions of the board because I listen, consider the opposition, come prepared with facts and supporting data and am willing to concede in situations where I believe I may have been misinformed. Being willing to learn from other people is key to sitting at the table.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: I have learned the value of different perspectives because of the variety of roles I have filled. As a parent, I have advocated for my children needing enrichment and those needing special assistance to meet their goals. As a teacher, I have always had a "kids first" philosophy. I have teamed up with the parents of my students to gain insight into the whole child and used their suggestions for how to best meet their needs. As a special education advocate, I believe in public education and that students best succeed in a classroom with professionals who understand that every child can learn and grow. As a community member, I understand that fiscal responsibility is imperative. Allocating finances in the most appropriate way is of high priority. I also know that our property values correlate strongly to the success of our district. I value the responsibilities that a Board member has and will continue to work to keep our district student centered and successful.

Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?

A: If schools are the hub of a community, and I believe they are, then I'd like to view the school board as the bridge to connect the two. I'd like to see students get out of the classrooms more and into the community. I'd like the board to foster relationships with community members so we can work together to continue to weave the tight knit community that so many of us value. Extending the "threads", if you will, into Lake Villa and Lindenhurst communities that our district serves. Covid caused separation. I'd like to use this term to bring the focus back to students, achievement, and unity.

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