For Immediate Release
November 23, 2008

Berwyn South School Board President named recipient of the 2008 Thomas Lay Burroughs Award

Illinois State Board of Education honors 20-year district school board member

Springfield – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) presented Joanne Zendol, school board president of Berwyn South School District 100, with the 2008 Thomas Lay Burroughs Award Sunday during an annual state education conference in Chicago.

“I commend Joanne Zendol for her two decades of dedication and service on the board,’’ said State Board Chairman Jesse Ruiz. “Her leadership as school board president for the past 15 years has helped South Berwyn through increasing enrollment, changing demographics, new school construction and countless other changes and challenges.’’

Zendol was first elected to the District 100 school board in November 1988 when the district had about 1,700 students in five schools. Today, Berwyn South has more than 3,700 students in eight schools.

The percentage of low-income students rose from nearly 27 percent to about 77 percent during the past decade. The English Language Learners population more than doubled, from 8.9 percent to 18.2 percent, in that same time frame.  The percentage of Hispanic students rose from 29.4 percent to 74.5 percent.

During her board tenure, Zendol has been involved with re-drawing boundary lines, the adoption of school uniforms for the middle schools, the construction of two middle schools and three additions. She also has helped lead the district as it made significant improvements under No Child Left Behind.

“She is always up, she is always positive,’’ said South Berwyn Superintendent Stanley Fields. “She has an incredibly resilient, positive, can-do attitude. It’s infectious.’’

Through the years, Zendol has pushed for equitable school funding, influencing her local school board as well as policy makers in the state.  She led the board in passing a resolution for Fair Funding.

Zendol said her school board service began as part of her efforts to be an involved parent of two daughters, now 25 and 27, but grew to encompass her love for the community and public education.

“Someone has to be the voice of the children,’’ Zendol said. “I think school board members everywhere are the champions of children and public education and I’m proud to be a part of that bigger picture. I stay involved to let people know they should have faith in their public school system. It’s been around since the beginning.’’

Zendol lives in Berwyn with her husband, John, and their two daughters, Jennifer and Julie. A native of the northwest side of Chicago, Zendol concedes she asked “What state is that in?” when she first met John and he told her he was from Berwyn.

But after nearly 30 years in Berwyn, Zendol’s love for the community extends to nearly all aspects of the it. She is a member of the Berwyn Historical Society, and on the Board of the All Berwyn Commmittee, the Park District Strategic Planning Committee and has also served on many youth groups.

Zendol fostered and facilitated the formation 18 years ago of the South Berwyn Education Foundation which has raised more than $625,000 for District 100. Foundation funds have gone toward band uniforms and instruments, library books, technology, assemblies and special projects.

Through the years, Zendol has worked with five superintendents, two interim chiefs and coordinated four searches for the top post. She has served with 30 school board members over time and acted as a mentor to many of them, as well as board members throughout the state.

Zendol, Director of the West Cook Division of the Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), has helped lead training workshops for new board members and new school board presidents. She has been awarded IASB Leadership and Development Awards at all levels and has maintained “Master Board Member” status for 10 years. 

Zendol received the award Sunday during the joint annual conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, the Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials in Chicago.

ISBE created the award in 1991 to honor Thomas Lay Burroughs who served as chairman of the State Board of Education and the Board of Education for the Collinsville School District. The award recognizes extraordinary educational leadership at the local level, including leadership:

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