Supna C. Jain

Candidate Name: Supna C. Jain

Office Seeking: School District 204 School Board

Campaign Website: www.supnajain204.com

Subdivision/Neighborhood: Mission Oaks

Closest School: Welch Elementary School

Occupation and/or Professional Training: I am a Senior Lecturer in Communication at North Central College, the Director of the Speaking Center, Indian dance instructor at the Naperville Park District, and a communication consultant.

My educational background includes a J.D. (DePaul University, College of Law), a M.S. in Communication (Illinois State University), and a B.A. in Political Science and Communication (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign).

How long in years have you been a Naperville resident? My husband and my two sons, ages 8 and 12, have lived in District 204 for over 10 years.

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

The following answers have only been edited for formatting purposes.

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

I believe in the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” My village started with my parents, who were educators, and included my neighbors, teachers, and countless others. As a beneficiary of a strong village during my formative years, I hope to now pay it forward and serve district 204 in a larger capacity. I believe my role as a parent along with my background and experience in higher education, the law, and the arts, gives me a unique perspective that can add value to school board discussions and decisions.

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

The district must ensure academic rigor is not diminished during the pandemic (remote, in-person, hybrid). The district must continually assess the effects of the pandemic on student learning and teacher/staff capabilities. As one who taught in-person and online, I understand the challenges educators face in supporting students. Teaching strategies are nuanced, take years to master, and do not easily carry from one medium to another. Learning loss, particularly among our most vulnerable students, is one of my greatest concerns. Hence the district must be relentless in their outreach efforts (short/long term) to ensure students don’t fall behind.

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?

ELL and Special Needs students deserve and are required to receive the support they require to realize their full potential for academic success. I believe D204 is committed to providing our students with the resources needed to successfully participate in classroom and other school activities. We must involve their families with the school and educational process to make learning a more cooperative effort. We must also provide these students with the same opportunity, as their peers, to participate in all district programs and activities.

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

The Board’s primary focus should be on assessing the effects of the pandemic on learning. Simultaneously the Board should commit to ways, the recently adopted equity statement, is put into practice. Lastly, we must focus on developing student social emotional competencies so that our students are proficient in stress management skills as they continue to multitask school work, extra curricular activities, relationships, and global issues.

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 try to attend/watch every school board meeting and have been in contact with School Board members as it relates to District issues and understanding the roles/responsibilities of their position.

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?

District 204 operates on a lean budget, spending less on each student than the state average. It will be difficult to make adjustments as over 80% of our expenditures are on instruction and supporting services. However, as a board member, I will commit to examining the numbers closely and supporting policies that protect the financial health of the district. I will protect the financial interest of the district, ensuring that new developers, such as CityGate West, pay their fair share in taxes to support additional students that move into the area.

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

I will happily meet with the new family, listen to their needs, and introduce them to leaders in the district that will introduce them to the services available in the district.

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?

As an educator in the college of arts and science, I cannot in good conscience eliminate any of the above subjects mentioned. The above listed subjects are foundational in building a critical and global thinker. If tasked with approving the curriculum, I will listen to subject-matter experts proposing the curriculum, and will convey the concerns stakeholders, including parents, might have towards the curriculum.

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?

While school vouchers provide more flexibility of school choice for parents, research shows that it often does not cover the costs of private schooling and takes away money from public schooling systems.

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

The U.S. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights have been the impetus behind my career choices in the field of law and education. I had the privilege of studying the Constitution in law school, and believe it guides my thinking and actions everyday.

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

I am self-funding my campaign. I have not received any endorsements thus far.

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

My most influential teacher was Dr. Holcomb, who taught World History. I took her course my junior year in high school at University High School. She understood my potential and validated me as a student in a way no other teacher had done before.

Anything else you’d like to add?

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