2023 Board of Education candidate Q&A: Kristine Gericke

Nolan Shen, Staff Writer

This Q&A is a part of The Central Times’ coverage of the 2023 Board of Education election. The election will take place on April 4. For more information, click here.

The following Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.


Q: How long have you been on the board?

A: I was first elected in 2017. That [opening] was created because of a vacancy. So it was a two year term. And then I was re-elected in 2019, which reset it to a four year term. And here we are in 23’.

Q: Why did you first decide to run for your first term?

A: When I was in school, I was a history major with a secondary education minor. So I’ve always wanted to be in the education world. Life kind of took a different path for me, so I never taught full time. But I stayed active in different parts of the education world, and I knew at some point in my adult life, it was just tugging at me that I wanted to be in public service. So when the two year seat was open, I thought, “this would be a good time for me personally and professionally to get into public service,” and the Board of Education is a perfect intersection for me of operating in the education world and also being a public servant. I knew the two years would be a good starting point, and I pretty much loved it from the start. And so I asked for re-election in 19’ and I’m asking for it again. It’s a perfect intersection of public service and public education for me, it’s my passion.

Q: Why are you still committed to this office?

A: The longer I’ve served on the board, the more I love it. District 203 is an exceptional district, and the work that is done every day, is I don’t even know if I could come up with the right word- to say it’s say it’s good work is an understatement. Our district it’s just exceptional and I want to continue fostering kids through their school years and helping them find their own passion. Getting them ready for the world that they’re going to enter into when they graduate, when they go into college or go down a career path. It’s just a fantastic environment to be a part of.

Q: What affiliation do you have to District 203?

A: My kids did K through 12. I moved to Naperville in 98’. Prior to that, I was a student at North Central College. So that’s when I was first introduced to the Naperville area, and I knew I wanted to come back and live here at some point. I did some of my clinical stuff when I was at North Central at Naperville Central and at Washington Junior High. 

Q: Is there an achievement that you’re most proud of in your most recent term?

A: II would say I’m very proud of the SEL work looking back especially over my last term. I see SEL as this long process and initiative from the time it got started to where we’re at now. I think the SEL work that we put in place or that we were doing before the pandemic was a great asset for us during that time, and now that we’re coming out of it. So it’s helped us navigate the challenges of the pandemic, and then it’s helped us with recovering any learning loss and getting our students back in the building, learning how to have good relationships with each other. I think it’s paid dividends for us. And I’m very proud that there was that foresight and that willingness to make that a constant part of our education.

Q: Looking forward to your next term, what is your main focus? Are you more focused on change, or maintaining the precedent or status quo? 

A: For a board member, it’s not a great idea to be focused on only one thing. There’s so many different things that are going on in the education world. So I can’t say there’s only one thing I’m focused on. I can say I’m excited to see a couple of things continue on or to come a little bit more to the forefront. I’m very excited about our engagement with students, really trying to capture student’s voices to understand better how their experiences are in school right now. Mr. Bridges has an advisory council with students from Connections, both of the high schools and the junior highs. This is a new advisory group this year, and the board members can rotate into each of the meetings to be able to listen and hear the conversation. I’m very excited to see that really ramp up. I’m interested in how our students are seeing things, their ideas, their thoughts, reflections, and what I would love to do is expand that to engage more with our alumni, especially in the 18 to 25 year old range. Those that are in college and those that are out of college now, but they’re in their early years with their professional careers, to see how they look back on their time at 203. What we did well, what we can improve upon. So that’s probably the thing, being that it’s new this year, it’s just grabbed my attention and my curiosity. I really want to hear from students and former students.

Q: This year, we’ve seen some bigger changes within the district. Things like phasing out the Latin programs in high schools, or the high school music updates. What are your big takeaways from the increased feedback that you got about these changes?

A: I would say the biggest takeaway is that our community is engaged with what’s going on with our school district. And that’s a good thing. It’s always a good thing to get feedback from the community. As a board member, one of the things I do is I look at a lot of different data points to help guide me to my decision. And so when there’s community feedback, it’s an important piece of what I look at, and so I would say it’s encouraging that our community is, you know, passionate about different, you know, different topics, different curriculum, you know, whatever the the issue is, that we’re looking at and so I appreciate that.

Q: Can you explain what your role as Vice President means that’s different from the other board members?

So the Vice President, if the president cannot be at a meeting, the Vice President fills their role for that meeting. So that’s the first thing. The other thing is I work closely right now with the President in the event that she can’t be there. The Vice President and President work very closely together. We meet with the superintendent the week before meetings, usually Thursday, to look at the agenda and make sure whatever the board calendar says, the agenda reflects. 

President and Vice President are an internal organization that the board does, so we select the people for that position. We look at that every two years. So when there’s an election,anybody who’s been elected or re-elected, we take the oath of office at usually the first meeting of May. And then we decide who we would like to serve as President and Vice President of the board. 

Q: So if you are re-elected to the board after this upcoming election, are you confident that you can keep your old Vice President position? Do you see anything changing?

A: You know, honestly, not really. I’m happy to serve on the board in any capacity. I’m not tied to keep role. I think it’s a good thing. Board members all have an opportunity if they want to serve in either capacity. I think it’s a good thing that we all have a chance to be in a different role if we want to. So it’s not it’s not like I have to keep that to be happy. It’s the general overall service to the community that excites me.

Q: As a member of the board, who do you believe it is that you represent? Who do you think is your primary constituent?

A: I would say however I’m operating in my board role, whether I’m doing my homework at home, or I’m at a board meeting or out in the community, student needs and education is my focus. I look at how we provide the best education possible, what are the resources, how do we allocate the resources, all those kinds of questions that go beyond that. Really, the student needs are the focus, but I’m advocating for what they need. And so then by extension, does the staff have the resources they need to deliver the best possible education, do we have the best staff possible, are we encouraging their own education and their professional learning? Listening to the community and their thoughts and concerns, and sometimes it’s also explaining to the community about my role or a general question. So I can’t say there’s a primary other than students are at the center.


For more on the 2023 Board of Education election, click here

For a profile on Gericke, click here.