Saba Haider

Candidate Name: Saba Haider

Office Seeking: School District 204 School Board

Campaign Website: www.sabahaider.com

Subdivision/Neighborhood: Villages of Meadowlakes

Closest School: Still Middle School

Occupation and/or Professional Training: Independent Business Owner (Health and Wellness Expert)

How long in years have you been a Naperville resident? I have lived in Naperville Township for the last 13 years. I am currently an Aurora city resident.

Service on Boards, Commissions, Task Forces, etc. with dates served (nonprofit too): 

  • Wife and Mother (Children in Elementary and Middle School)
  • Independent Business Owner / Health and Wellness Expert
  • Master of Wildlife Science Degree (Working with Endangered Animals)
  • Volunteer in IPSD 204 to Help Students Learn Tools and Skills to Manage Socioemotional Consequences of Social, Academic and Personal Restrictions During the Pandemic
  • Volunteer and Fundraiser for Over a Decade with PTA, Schools, children with disabilities through Variety the Children’s Charity of IL, Girl Scouts, Food Insecure Children in our Schools,
  • Advanced Educational and Financial Support for Children in Need
  • Instructor at Fry YMCA, Park Districts, and other local businesses and wellness studios
  • Experience in Education – Family Owns and Operates a School for Underprivileged Youth
  • Community Organizer

The following answers have only been edited for formatting purposes.

1. Why are you running to serve the board of education? 

I moved here 13 years ago with my husband, I found a community that was welcoming, safe and diverse. I want to foster these values and also increase better awareness around social, emotional and mental health, strengthen the channel of communication among all members of the community, and work hard to extend resources equitably to all the students in district 204. I want to lead our community towards positivity, stability and growth. The best way I can do that is by affecting change in the lives of our children. I will work hard to make sure all students are able to learn, lead and thrive.

2. What is the school district’s most pressing need? 

The most pressing need of the school district is to make sure that we safely get kids back to in-person learning. I will work with the board to make sure that the solution is a meeting of the minds with compromise, compassion and creativity at its core, driven by scientific data. We have to make sure that we open the schools safely for everyone; students, teachers, staff members, parents and grandparents at home.

3. What are your thoughts on the school district’s programs dedicated toward special education students, English Language Learners (ELL), students in the middle and gifted students?

Our district is doing a great job at encouraging all our kids to achieve their full potential.

We have great ELL and Special needs programs. Hiring teachers and staff that are representative of our student population will also be greatly helpful. Special Needs kids should be included in regular education process by using social integration and other instructional strategies.

We need to help middle students by implementing Project-based learning and real-life scenarios to help supplement regular class education.

Gifted Kids are provided a learning environment that offers an enriched/accelerated curriculum, motivates them, and promotes interactions with academic peers.

4. Name three District 204 policies that need review or immediate attention.

Community Relations:

More community engagement including discussions, feedback and inputs from community members to get their views, and explain board’s decisions to them

Equity:

Provide help and support to sections of society who need it the most, so that we can level the playing field and provide equal opportunity for everyone to achieve their full potential

Student Social and Emotional Development:

Provide trainings, tools and support to help students, parents and school staff to better manage the social and emotional challenges, improve social interaction and provide support to those who are dealing with social and emotional challenges

5. How often are you in touch with members of the current School Board? And do you attend/watch school board meetings live or after they’re saved in the archive?

I have been fortunate to witness a positive, productive and harmonious school board in district 204. I have been thankful for the guidance I have received from them as I carry the lessons I have learned into my future as a school board member. I am in touch with all the current school board members and reach out to them frequently for support, guidance and learning.

I attend/watch school board meetings live.

6. What up-and-coming City of Naperville/City of Aurora development will impact School District 204 funding the most? As a board member, where would you look to make budget adjustments?

The Fox Valley Mall reconstruction and the CityGate West project will potentially add a huge burden to the district’s schools in the area. Schools in the area are already crowded and will face a big challenge receiving the kids. Our board is doing a great job when it comes to managing the district’s budget and we want to continue to show improvement. As the district’s needs evolve, focusing on controlling the rate at which expenses grow will be an essential task.

7. In a public relations role, how would you orientate a new family to the school district?

I would suggest the new family to find ways to connect with other community members and parents. Parent organizations such as IPPC (Indian Prairie Parents’ Council), PDAC (Parent Diversity Advisory Council), individual school PTAs, BPAC (Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee) can be great sources for information. New Family Orientations at schools will be greatly helpful to the new parents. IPSD website is also a great resource. Most importantly, in case of a concern, sharing the chain of command and a list of school staff members along with their contact information can also be very helpful.

8. Consider K-12 core curriculum to include English (reading, language arts writing), science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts (STEAM), foreign languages, computer science, civics/government/current events, economics, history, geography, physical education/health and social-emotional learning standards. If the school district were forced to eliminate a subject in order to add a new one, what would you eliminate? Any thought of what you would add at what grade level? What’s the parents’ role in monitoring curriculum changes and choices?

Instead of eliminating, I would combine History and Civics because we can learn from the past and apply the knowledge gained, to better understand the current world.

I would add “Mental Health” as a subject at the middle school level. We need to teach students to become resilient and future ready by giving them the tools to cope with the challenges of their busy and rapidly evolving lives.

The role of parents is to participate and get involved, and let the district know what their view points are. An effective School Board should always be open to suggestions and guide the community in the right direction.

9. Research reveals that high self-esteem and student achievement are closely related to positive parental involvement in school. Considering growing interest in school choice, home-schooling and private schools, what are your thoughts on school vouchers?

I respect the decision of parents to be able to choose for their kids. However, Vouchers divert attention, commitment and dollars from public schools to pay private school tuition for a few students, including many who already are in private school. Many of our nation’s public school districts currently provide educational choices that promote success in student achievement and school performance, thereby preparing our students for college and careers.

10. When was the last time you read the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?

The last time I read the US Constitution and Bill of Rights in 2019.

11. Have you received any donations or endorsements from any organized group(s)? If so, which groups?

No, I have not received donations or endorsements from any organized groups.

12. Name the school teacher who most influenced you. Please include grade, school, city and state. (Parents/family are not eligible.)

The teacher who most influenced me was my Botany teacher Dr Wajahat, in Graduate School in India while I was studying Wildlife Sciences. Botany was dry, difficult and complicated. He taught us the subject in ways that made me fall in love with the subject. He would take us to a nearby park or forest reserve and invite us to spend time understanding the plants by observing them in real life rather than just reading about them in the books. His passion for teaching, innovative ways of engaging the students, and kind and encouraging words left a lasting impression on my life.

Anything else you’d like to add?

While every single one of us has had to make some very hard adjustments in the last year, I believe that when we work together, we can guide our district towards positivity, stability and growth. I will work hard to make sure that all students in district 204 are able to learn, lead and thrive.

I am number 6 on the ballot, and I look forward to getting your vote on April 6th!

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