February 07, 2023


Shawn Walsh, Will County Regional Superintendent 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

Will County Regional Superintendent candidate Shawn Walsh

Full Name: Shawn Walsh

What office are you seeking? Will County Regional Superintendent of Schools

What offices, if any, have you previously held? Currently serving as Regional Superintendent of Schools 2013-present.

City: Elwood

Occupation: Regional Superintendent of Schools

Education: Associate Degree - Joliet Junior College Bachelor’s Degree in History - University of St. Francis

Master’s Degree in Educational Administration - Governors State University

Doctor of Education, Educational Leadership - University of St. Francis

Campaign Website: N/A

What are the top 3 biggest challenges facing Will County schools?

The three biggest challenges facing Will County Schools are the ongoing teacher shortage, addressing the social/emotional needs of students, and promoting the safe and effective use of technology for students.

What would be your top three priorities over the next four years?

As Regional Superintendent of Schools, I oversee the Will County Regional Office of Education (ROE) and the top three priorities for the ROE over the next four years are addressing the teacher shortage, truancy, and school safety. Regarding the teacher shortage, the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, an association in which I serve as a Vice President and Legislative Committee Co-Chair, annually releases a survey on the teacher shortage along with policy recommendations. Our association has worked with legislators to implement policy changes to address the teacher shortage. The ROE offers professional learning opportunities that help retain existing teachers. The office has also worked with the local higher education community to offer short- term substitute trainings.

The ROE is set to receive an increase in state funding to address the growing concern of truancy. My plan is to hire additional caseworkers and strategically place them throughout the county to work with school district staff and offer supports to the students and families.

Lastly, the ROE has partnered with the Will County Emergency Management Agency to form the K-12 School Safety Task Force. Members of the school community join with first responders to share best practices and plan school safety seminars and professional learning opportunities.

What do you bring to the table that your opponents do not?

I am a life-long resident of Will County and I have spent my entire educational career in Will County. I bring over 14 years of experience at the Will County ROE, where I served as the Assistant Regional Superintendent for over 5 years and the last 9 years as the Regional Superintendent of Schools. Over those 14 years I have built positive relationships with school and community leaders locally and statewide. This network has allowed me to bring high quality, responsive services to the local school districts and communities. For example, I successfully lobbied that school employees be first in line for the COVID 19 vaccine in February 2021. As a result of the ROE’s service to the local school communities, the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce recognized the Will County ROE as the 2021 Educational Institution of the Year. Lastly, I have a vision for education that is inclusive in meeting the needs of all students we serve. The ROE, under my leadership, has supported school districts in meeting that goal.

What more should be done to ensure school districts have to address any learning loss or social/emotional needs that may have been caused by the pandemic?

School districts throughout the county and the state have received three rounds of federal dollars to address a multitude of issues brought on by the pandemic. One of those allocations of federal dollars require that 20% be designated for learning loss. School districts have made a concerted effort to hire additional school service personnel (counselors, social workers, etc....) to address the growing social/emotional needs of students. The ROE has supported the local school districts by hosting networks for school service as well as curriculum personnel to share best practices on how to navigate during and after the pandemic. The ROE has also hosted several professional learning opportunities for district staff in the area of social/emotional learning.

What role do you think the regional superintendent has in curriculum decisions at area school districts?

The ROEs throughout the state have been tasked with ensuring the local school districts follow the minimum standards set in law. As a result of state mandates, every public school district is required to teach certain subjects (Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Science, etc....). School boards are given the legal authority to establish their own curriculum to meet the state requirements. As Regional Superintendent of Schools, I am not directly involved in the curricular decisions of a local school board as long as that board meets the minimum standard in law. The ROE does offer support in developing a district’s programs of study through professional learning opportunities.

What more could be done to address the need for more teachers on both the long and short term?

In addition to the responses above regarding the teacher shortage, the General Assembly continues to make policy changes that will ease financial restrictions when applying for a professional educator license or to become a paraprofessional. Recent legislation also extended the time frame in which substitute teachers can teach in place of a licensed teacher. Some long-term solutions include creating a more robust educator pipeline and retaining the existing teachers employed in the area. Some local high schools are partnering with the local universities in establishing “Grow Your Own” education programs. The Will County ROE is currently working with an organization in establishing Affinity Groups with the aim of retaining teachers of color.

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