Board candidate overview: Christi Helm

William Tong, Online Managing Editor & Editorial Editor

Introduce yourself. What do you do? 

My bachelor’s degree is in sociology from Northern Illinois University. I also was an elementary school classroom teacher. I’ve done educational sales; I worked most recently for an educational nonprofit organization. I’m currently staying at home with my daughter.

What do you hope is accomplished by the board if you’re elected?

Number one is what I’m coining “COVID catch up”, things like helping students get back on track from all of the missed instructional time, helping students re-acclimate to school [and] making sure that students have services and supplemental programming that they need. [Also], my passion is educational equity. I want all students in District 203 to feel like they’re in an inclusive environment. I definitely have noticed some different policies and procedures at the district level, that are discriminatory towards lower income families. I kind of want to dig deep into those policies, and make sure [they] are fair for all of our families, regardless of any different demographics.

What are your thoughts on the current district COVID-19 response? What is going well? What would you change?

I give them a lot of credit for everything that they’ve gone through the past nine months. I think that it was absolutely an impossible situation for anybody that would have been in that spot. Specifically as a single parent, I wish that the communication was more clear. As far as whether or not to open schools or not open schools, the solution for every family is going to look a little bit different. I wish that there was more of a choice for both students and teachers, because I would never want to force a teacher to go into a situation where they don’t feel safe. 

Are you in support of mandatory COVID testing or a mandatory COVID vaccine requirement from the state for students to learn in-person next fall? (Aside from medical or other exemptions?) 

To be honest with you, I’m not sure about the fall. For me, it just depends on the data over the next couple of months [and] the safety of the vaccine. Assuming that the data and statistics are showing us that it’s safe, maybe it would be a good idea to require parents and parents of students to have that vaccination.

If elected, how do you think the board would address issues with teacher fatigue and excess teacher turnover?

We need to make sure that we’re listening to our teachers and [they] are well taken care of. That way, they can just focus on their jobs and take care of the students.

During the Aug. 17 meeting, the current board passed “Resolution affirming the authority of the superintendent to implement Return to Learn plan for 2020-2021 school year.” Any thoughts? 

It was frustrating, because we voted in our school board members. I know that it was a very hard situation, but I think our school board members stepped up to serve that spot. They do need to take accountability for the decisions being made by the district. 

How can we as a district address issues regarding racism, bias, diversity, equity and inclusion? 

The number one thing for me is just making sure that our curriculum fosters diversity. Oftentimes, we look at history from one perspective, and I think that it’s important to look at other people throughout history: people of color, women or people in the LGBTQ community. For both our students and our staff members, it’s really important to [have] these conversations, about race or the social uprising that was happening over the summer. It’s really important to have some of these hard conversations in a safe and inclusive way so that we’re fostering our students to be calm.

One last thing: why should people vote for you?  

Ever since I first stepped into a classroom in kindergarten, I have been passionate about education. My experience in both education and sociology and my experience as a single mother [makes me] a very solid advocate for our students.

Find out more about Christi Helm: 

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