For Immediate Release
November 21, 2011

Homewood District 153 School Board President receives Thomas Lay Burroughs Award

Shelly Marks presented with statewide honor by ISBE at education conference in Chicago

HOMEWOOD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) selected Shelly Marks of Homewood School District 153 as the 2011 recipient of the Thomas Lay Burroughs Award, which annually honors an outstanding school board president in Illinois. Marks has served nine years as president of the Homewood 153 Board of Education and 19 years total on the board.

“Shelly Marks stands out as an incredible leader in Homewood District 153,” said Gery J. Chico, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. “Her district demonstrates high levels of learning, which requires not only the dedication of teachers and parents, but also the support and guidance someone like Shelly provides.”

Like many school districts in Illinois, Homewood has faced increased financial stresses in recent years. Marks and the school board are credited with prioritizing assets for high quality staff and educational interventions, which have made an impact on student learning. On the 2011 ISATs, 90 percent of students in the district met or exceeded state standards in math and 86 percent of students met or exceeded the standards in reading. That is despite spending less per pupil than the state average.

Homewood District 153 has also managed to cut its achievement gap in half since 2006. This comes with a growing population of minority and low-income students in the district. Marks has been specifically applauded for advocating early childhood education as a means to level the educational playing field for every student. She is also credited with implementing a successful districtwide diversity program called Homewood SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity).

“In these times of limited resources, it’s not easy to do the right thing by students while still being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. Yet Shelly has managed to do that on our school board for the past 19 years,” said Homewood School District 153 Superintendent Dale Mitchell, who nominated Marks.

Described as a “highly visible, very approachable presence in the schools” in her nomination for the award, Marks demonstrated her strong leadership skills this past year as the school district presented its first tax referendum since 1992. After much work to raise awareness about the district’s needs, the referendum passed with 80 percent of the vote.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve on the school board and to have an impact on the children, providing the education they need to be good citizens and adults,” Marks said. “I feel very lucky to serve in Homewood. We have a community where everybody does what’s best for the students.”

Shelly Marks and her husband, Steve, have two sons, Aaron, 25, and Jeffrey, 23.

ISBE created the award for school board presidents 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:

Marks received the Thomas Lay Burroughs Award on Sunday, Nov. 20, 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.